Thursday, September 3, 2015

Basic Hearth Bread

                                                       Making this bread made me happy.
                                  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.

Good enough!

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


  1. I didn't grow up in a bread bakers household either. We only had yeast rolls once a year at either Thanksgiving or Christmas. But when we made the Orange Panattone last winter, I was hooked. I actually began to "feel" the dough that weekeng. I thank Rose for that everytime I bake bread. GREAT JOB btw. Happy Baking Vicki Granny!

  2. Looks wonderful! I wasn't sure if I wanted to make it..but now i think I might as well..

  3. Loved your post. Makes me want to jump in the kitchen and make the sponge for tomorrow (I'll wait though because it's too hot and humid this week). Your bread looks wonderful. The crumb looks very nice too. And congrats on developing the feel/touch for bread dough. I remember exactly how happy I felt when that happened to me. I still get excited when my bread turns out good :)

  4. Vickie--i'm so glad you are entering into my top favorite world--bread baking. and you know what?! when i was around 5 years old and every weekend made the trip home from Far Rockaway to Manhattan, on a Sunday night there was that intoxicating smell of bread baking. some years ago i taped a tv segment in the old Wonder Bread .
    building that for a while housed a tv studio.
    My mother ate wholewheat bread because she thought it was more healthful but growing up it was Wonder Bread toast. and one of the highest achievements of my life was when Michael Batterberry of Food Arts tasted my soft white bread and said: "This is what Wonder Bread in its soul always wanted to be."

  5. How funny, as I was baking this bread I looked at the instructions for 'by hand' and thought I should be trying that instead of the mixer. You really miss out on the lovely feel of bread dough using the mixer, although it's more convenient. I like your ice slippery dip - very clever!

  6. Lovely bread, Vicki, with beautiful interior. I like how you slide the ice down. Very clever!