Rustic White Bread

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Last year, when I got together with Carol to learn how to make her wonderful Limpa Bread, she also gave me the recipe for the white bread she makes for special events. She wrote out the recipe for me with limited details…. almost cryptic.

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I made it a couple of times, kind of winging it, with much success, according to my friends and family, but now it’s been a while, and my memory is fuzzy, so I have to make it again and write down the details! What I think about this bread is that there’s a lot of wiggle room in the recipe. It’s just yeast and flour and water and salt and oil. That’s it. Kind of hard to mess up if you know what to look for, and know how the dough is supposed to feel. I used to be afraid of yeast, but now I just think of working with it as a big, fun science experiment. Carol says yeast is weird and unpredictable, and I agree. Just make sure your yeast is fresh (check that expiration date!), and store it in your fridge. I get a jar of it, and keep the jar in my freezer, just to be sure.

White Bread

  • 3 cups warm water (about 110°)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 scant Tbsp salt
  • 6 cups (1 pound plus 11 ounces) flour, divided, plus a lot extra

In the bowl of your stand mixer using your paddle attachment, mix 4 cups (1 pound plus 2 ounces) of the flour with the warm water, oil, yeast, and salt. This should take just a few minutes. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. It should end up with a few bubbles.

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Just a few bubbles here.

Add and mix in the remaining 2 cups of flour, using the paddle attachment. When everything is mixed, switch to the dough hook and mix on low (#2 on my Kitchenaid) for about 8 minutes. Dough should pull away from sides of bowl, and be stretchy/tacky/easy to handle. If dough is still too wet and sticky, add a little more flour, one tablespoon at a time, until it becomes tacky and pulls away from the bowl. But remember, too much flour = dense bread. For the record, I probably added almost an extra cup of flour, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough was the right consistency. But every time will be a bit different, so pay close attention to the consistency of your dough.

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Stretchy, tacky, not too wet, but not too dry.

Dump dough onto floured surface and knead by hand for a bit more, until dough is springy. Shape into a ball.

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Yeast jar is for scale…

Cover with a tea towel (you can do this on your counter) and let rise for one hour.

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Wow.

Punch down to release air. You want to get rid of extra large pockets of air, but not *all* of the air.

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I may have gone overboard here! You just want to get rid of any extra large pockets of air.

Cut dough in half (I use my bench scraper for this).

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Shape into loaves by stretching the dough and folding into thirds like an envelope. I elongate the dough because I like long loaves.

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It’s a little sloppy, but that’s okay.

Or you can get fancy and braid one of the loaves…

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The one on the left is the envelope fold.

Place dough seam side down on a greased or parchment lined pan.

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Cover with tea towel and let rise for another 30 minutes. While the dough is rising, preheat your oven to 350°. When the 30 minutes is up, make decorative cuts in the dough with a sharp knife.

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I cut about a half inch deep.

Bake in 350° oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Bread will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Let cool (if you can wait) almost completely before slicing. This bread is delicious served with pasta, or any meal, and it is also wonderful sliced and toasted, with butter. You can even use it as sandwich bread, because it has a lot of body to it.

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White Bread

  • 3 cups warm water (about 110°)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 scant Tbsp salt
  • 6 cups flour, divided, plus a lot extra

In the bowl of your stand mixer using your paddle attachment, mix 4 cups of the flour with the warm water, oil, yeast, and salt. This should take just a few minutes. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. It should end up with a few bubbles.

Add and mix in the remaining 2 cups of flour, using the paddle attachment. When everything is mixed, switch to the dough hook and mix on low (#2 on my Kitchenaid) for about 8 minutes. Dough should pull away from sides of bowl, and be stretchy/tacky/easy to handle. If dough is still too wet and sticky, add a little more flour, one tablespoon at a time, until it becomes tacky and pulls away from the bowl. But remember, too much flour = dense bread.

Dump dough onto floured surface and knead by hand for a bit more, until dough is springy. Shape into a ball. Cover with a tea towel (you can do this on your counter) and let rise for one hour.

Punch down to release air. You want to get rid of extra large pockets of air, but not *all* of the air. Cut dough in half (I use my bench scraper for this). Shape into loaves by stretching the dough and folding into thirds like an envelope. I elongate the dough because I like long loaves. Place dough seam side down on a greased or parchment lined pan. Cover with tea towel and let rise for another 30 minutes. While the dough is rising, preheat your oven to 350°.

When 30 minutes is up, make decorative cuts in the dough with a very sharp knife, and bake in 350° oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Bread will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Let cool (if you can wait) almost completely before slicing. This bread is delicious served with pasta, or any meal, and it is also wonderful sliced and toasted, with butter. You can even use it as a sandwich bread, because it has a lot of body to it.

Note: If you want the shinier, more golden bread with sesame seeds, lightly brush the loaves with an egg wash (one egg mixed with two teaspoons water) and sprinkle with sesame seeds just before putting in the oven.

Second Note: If you make this bread with bread flour, it is fluffier and softer, kind of like what you might get at an Italian restaurant. I can’t decide if I like the more sturdy, all-purpose flour bread better, but I’m definitely leaning in that direction.

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This one is made with bread flour – light and fluffy.

Nothing like freshly baked bread!

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This entry was posted in Comfort Food, Fun in the kitchen!, Yeasty Things. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Rustic White Bread

  1. Pingback: Spiced Chocolate Chip Cookies | and everything nice

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