It's an easy recipe, that's for sure, but I think it is more than that.
The mystery of bread baking seems to be less mysterious.
Instead of being racked with nerves, today I found it relaxing.
This happened while briefly needing the dough ever so slightly
and placing it into the bowl for the first rising.
Letting the dough hook do all the kneading is my modus operendi.
I don't have the "touch" or "feel" for bread dough that other fortunate Alpha Bakers do. I'm so puzzled by this simple thing. But today, I think I might be starting to understand.
And while this sounds insignificant, for me it is a major milestone.
Not growing up among bread bakers, I have zero reference point.
Still, one of my most indelible memories is a
second grade school field trip to Wonder Bread Bakery.
The smell was intoxicating.
The building full of machinery turning out hundreds and hundreds of loaves.
Men pushing horse trough size tubs of dough into the proofing room.
Watching loaves of bread climb up up and up into the oven and then out the other side.
And finally, the perfectly packaged miniature loaf of bread they gave to each of us children.
Every time we passed the old Wonder Bread Bakery while zooming down the freeway,
we rolled down the windows for that intoxicating aroma
until the city council passed a ridiculous ordinance to curtail any escaping yeasty fumes.
What has happened to people?
Who doesn't want to smell bread baking?
Sadly Wonder Bread closed down this baking facility and it stands empty, falling into rack and ruin.
Bread flour, whole wheat flour, yeast, water and honey are whisked together for the sponge.
More flour and yeast are then mixed together to blanket the dough.
I never tire of this step Rose uses.
Here it bubbled for the full four hours.
After a quick mix the salt is added.
It had quite a rubbery consistency but after a mere seven minute rest,
it lightened up considerably, downright fluffy by comparison.
Whacked around by the dough hook, it turned back into a rather dense, tacky mass.
Into the bowl for a nice warm rise.
This dough is amazing.
One warm rise and it puffed up beautifully.
Time to be gently formed into a round loaf
for the final rise under a bowl.
Here's my new little foil contraption for
getting ice cubes into the tray
Rose has us set up on the floor of the oven
for a burst of steam.
The cubes slide down the foil shoot into the pan.
My other half thinks
it's the best bread he's ever eaten.
High praise coming from an Italian.
Rose Levy Beranbaum