Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Easy Free-form White Bread

With this recipe for sesame white bread, adapted from Serious Eats, you can effortlessly makes a delicious loaf in an afternoon. The loaf is nice for sandwiches and toast. This recipe has so many things going for it: The bread is delicious, economical, has no added sugar and tastes great for several days. (Of course since it is homemade the loaf has no added preservatives, chemicals or unpronounceable ingredients.)

Two important tools will make this bread easy to bake: A pizza stone and a pizza peel. If you don't have a pizza peel, you aren't making enough homemade pizza! But you can substitute a rimless baking sheet or the back of a baking sheet for the peel.

You cannot buy a bread like this. Make it often! Enjoy!

1 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
11.25 ounces bread flour, divided (about 2 and 3/4 cup flour)
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 egg beaten with 1 Tbs. milk
Sesame Seeds, Poppy Seeds and Salt.

Combine warm water, yeast, and 6 ounces of flour in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 90 minutes. Set out the butter and allow it to come to room temperature.

Move racks to the lower third of the oven and place a pizza stone in the oven. Heat the oven to 350. Put a nice wide sheet of parchment paper on the pizza peel and sprinkle with corn meal or semolina flour.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining flour and the salt. With your hand, work the butter into the flour/salt mixture until well combined. Add this mixture to the bowl with the risen dough and combine. Let rest for five minutes.

Follow Peter Reinhart's technique for kneading wet dough. The technique is explained here.

After the last fold in kneading, place the dough on the prepared pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, 20-30 minutes.

Brush the risen dough with the egg wash and sprinkle with the various seeds and salt. Make one long slash in the dough lengthwise. Slide the dough, still on the parchment, onto the pizza stone and bake for 30 minutes or until the dough reaches a temperature of about 200 degrees.

Cool the bread, then enjoy!

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