Playing around with an idea the last few days about how to serve fresh, homemade bread on Thanksgiving day. Whenever you make bread from scratch you can guarantee that it is going to get gobbled up and someone is going to be sad that they only got 2 pieces. How about individual loaves? I went ahead and prepared my dough as I usually do. This recipe makes a very savory white bread, almost like a sourdough. I haven’t met a person yet who doesn’t like it (All though I have met quite a few who wished that they didn’t like it as much as they do.)
First, in a large plastic bowl add:
1 1/2 TBSP Dry active yeast, instant yeast, or bread machine yeast.
1 1/2 TBSP Kosher or Sea Salt
3 cups warm water
6 1/2 cups white all purpose flour
Mix it all together with either a wooden spoon or your hand mixer. This shouldn’t be hard to mix. Make sure there is not extra white flour surrounding your dough. It’s okay to add a little extra water if you need to, but you shouldn’t have to if you measured.
Cover, but not tightly, the dough and leave it alone for 2 hours on your counter. I use a large plastic bowl with a snap lid and leave one of the snaps undone. They’re $10 at target. Before I bought it, though, I used plastic wrap and just very loosely covered the dough.
After 2 hours put it in your fridge. It can stay in your fridge for a week or so. The longer you store it, the more it will smell like beer because the yeast is maturing. I find that if you refrigerate it for at least 2-3 hours the dough is very easy to shape. This step is not necessary, once you have waited the 2 hours of counter time, you can use your dough. It’s just easier with some fridge time.
When you are ready to shape your loaves pull a small handful of dough apart from the rest and gently shape it into a little ball that is smooth on the top and sides. (It doesn’t matter what the bottom looks like) Just stretch the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball as you. Dust your hands with flour if you need to. This is just to prevent sticking – you don’t want to incorporate the flour into the dough. When you are done place the dough on a lightly floured surface, like wax paper or foil and let it rise for 40 minutes. Repeat until all your dough is used up. One batch made 13 mini loaves for me.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and let your baking stone be in the oven as it preheats. Ideally I would leave the cookie sheet in for st least 20 minutes before using it. You can do this while you wait for your dough to rise.
After the dough is ready cut a line or two or an “x” lightly on the top of each loaf. This is called scoring and it lets the gases escape while baking and makes your bread come out of the oven cooked uniformly and beautiful. Place the scored bread on your cooking stone and put it on your top or middle shelf in the oven. Place a shallow metal baking dish on the shelf below it, filled with water. This makes a steam and helps the bread to bake better as well.
Bake for about 20 minutes and remove, letting cool. This bread is best served fresh but is delicious anytime.
Hope you try it!