Featured,  Vegan Recipes

DIY Bread, It’s Easy!

There’s nothing better than the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven. Okay… maybe baby snuggles are better.

I discovered this recipe when my mom shared it about a year and a half ago. It’s a Tasty video, and you can watch it here, but I’ll also type out the recipe for you; I don’t usually like to cook from videos either. I like to write my recipes down on notecards or paper and stow them in a recipe the old fashioned way; for some reason it just makes me feel like super-mom.

I love this recipe SO MUCH for so many reasons, namely: it’s so stinking easy. Most of the time put into this bread is hands-off and you don’t need to knead (hehe…sorry)! This recipe is also so versatile. I’ve listed some alterations I’ve made to the recipe below, and they’re all phenomenal.

What You Need:

  • A large dutch oven; mine is 6 quarts.
  • Parchment paper (NOT WAX PAPER. How would I know this? Lemon, rosemary, wax scones I made that one time with my mom).
  • Flour
  • Dry active yeast (either in single packets – you only need one) or in a glass jar. I recommend getting a jar because I can guarantee you’re going to want to make this again.
  • Salt
  • Water

Recipe:

  1. Combine 4 cups of flour and 1 tablespoon of salt into a large bowl.
  2. Mix together 2 cups of lukewarm water and 1 packet (or 2 1/4 teaspoons) of dry active yeast (NOT INSTANT YEAST DON’T DO IT). Your yeast should start to activate within 5-10 minutes by causing the water to look “frothy.” This is called “blooming,” cool, huh?
  3. After the yeast has activated, combine the wet and the dry.
  4. Mix with a rubber spatula (I use a folding technique) until everything is combined. It will seriously look like a sticky mess – that’s fine, don’t add any flour to it; this is part of what makes this bread so moist and yummy.
  5. Set the bowl aside, covered with a damp towel, someplace warm (about 70-80 degrees) so that it can rise for 1.5-2 hours.
  6. When you come back to your dough, it should have doubled in size. Mix it up and punch it down with your spatula only enough to shrink it and scrape bits away from the edge of your bowl.
  7. Cover your sticky mess for another 1.5-2 hours.
  8. This time when you return to your dough, punch it down the same way and turn it out onto a floured surface. Gently shape the dough into a ball (this part is helpful to see on video, click here to jump right to the shaping part) and place it onto a sheet of *parchment paper, and place it into another clean, large bowl; it will stay here and rise until your Dutch oven is ready.
    • *The recipe doesn’t call for the parchment paper, but I find it makes it far easier to get the dough into the pan, and the bread out when it’s done. Plus, you don’t have to clean your pan or a second bowl afterwards!
  9. Preheat your oven to 450F, and toss your Dutch Oven in there to heat up with it. Ignoring your oven’s preheat notification, let the pan heat up for 30-45 minutes.
  10. Remove your Dutch Oven… from the oven, and place the parchment paper/bread hammock into the pan.
  11. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.
  12. Remove the lid, and bake for about 15 more minutes (I usually cut this short 1-2 minutes because I don’t like super crispy bread). Keep an eye on it, because it quickly goes from a glorious sandy brown to burned.
  13. Pull the pan out and remove the bread by lifting up on the parchment paper. I like to transfer the bread to a cutting board and let it cool for about an hour before cutting into it. No matter how hard I try, I end up with collapsed bread if I don’t wait long enough. The waiting is so hard but it’s so worth it.

What I Like to Make With It:

My absolute, all-time, can’t be beat, favorite combination is homemade soup and homemade bread. If I had to pick a last meal? This would be it. Hands. Down. Spread some Smart Balance EVOO spread on it and dip it in the soup? YUMMY.

We also like to have homemade bread with pasta dishes (holy carbs, amirite?), homemade beans (which I also have a dutch oven recipe for – I love that thing). Sometimes I make bread just to have on hand. We don’t buy regular pre-cooked sliced bread anymore. This recipe has changed our lives, I’m not even kidding.

Stuff to “Fluff” It Up:

  1. My favorite mod to this recipe is to turn it sourdough. I keep starter in my fridge that I wake up and feed about once a week so that I can always make sourdough bread. If you’re interested in starting your own little microcosm: check out this link here.
    • To change the recipe into a sourdough recipe, simply add however much starter you want to use, and take away equal amounts flour+water.
      • For example, if you have a weak or new starter, I would recommend using 2 cups of starter mix. In this case, add 1 cup less of flour to your bowl, and 1 cup less of water. If your starter is weak, you may still want to use 1 teaspoon of yeast.
      • For a more… experienced starter (ironic), use one cup of it, and only subtract 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 water from the original recipe. I usually add yeast in either case, just for good measure. I also don’t really like waiting around the extra time natural yeast takes to rise bread (it can be an extra 2-3 hours minimum).
  2. I’ve also made a cheddar bread and added chives (you can leave out the chives if you want). Just add a handful of shredded cheddar and a sprinkle of chives at your last mixing of the dough.
  3. One of the other modifications I’ve made is to add sesame seeds to the top of the bread – this is really yummy too! Just make sure you press them down into the dough or else they’ll all fall off when you take the bread out.
  4. The last modification I’ve made is to actually knead the bread – this yields an interesting texture. This would be best for something like french toast, or bread that you plan on re-toasting. It gets pretty chewy and has a tendency to dry out, so I would recommend cooking it for a slightly shorter time if you do this, and be sure to put it into an airtight bag.
    I’m sure you could also make this a whole wheat or whole grain bread, too. The one time I tried to do that, I didn’t account for the fact that whole wheat flour absorbs more moisture, so my bread was really dry. It wasn’t inedible, but it needed a lot of butter to go down. My mom has added wheat germ to her bread too, I’m not sure how it turned out, but it sounds like a fun experiment.

Enjoy! Let me know how yours turns out in the comments below.

Until next time,
Rachel

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Alicia

Looks so yummy, can’t wait to try it!