Breaking Bad…eh, Baking Bread ;)

 

I know, I know… it´s an awful pun but I simply couldn’t resist it! And I´m still giggling at my own witticism, believe me, I´m quite silly that way 😉

But before I´m at risk at being too much in awe of myself, I´ll swiftly come to the point of this post:

In my mind baking is an art in its own right. It doesn´t matter if you’re baking cookies, a cake, meringues, an elaborate gateau with several layers of cream and icing or simply bread. Who can ever resist the smell of freshly baked bread? As far as I know no one, at least not me.

 

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Italian White Bread

 

I have been “studying” the art of baking bread for over ten years now. All of them were edible even the very first ones, but to be honest, it took a while till they not even tasted good but reeeally good, and even longer until they looked the part too.

I should add at this point that I´m quite finicky when it comes to food and I blame my parents who are both great cooks – my dad even owned an Italian Restaurant when I was little. But none of them was any good at baking bread, so I started to teach it to myself.

The thing about baking bread, like with everything else really, is that no matter how carefully you handle your recipe, it takes more than that. It takes feeling and sensing when your dough is good enough to let it finally rest so it can double.

Time is also an essential factor and should under no circumstances be underestimated. A good bread really needs time. When I was younger, that was my main mistake. I was too impatient to wait and put the bread into the oven long before it was ready for it. Just because I was so keen of eating it I guess 😉

I have often read that it takes about 10 years of practice to develop expertise at whatever it is you want to be really good at. I´m not sure if that´s true but I for one know that it really took me a long time to master the skill of baking bread and that it was worth every second.

Many might think these days where you can buy bread in every store and supermarket this is an unnecessary skill, but I honestly don´t think so. For one I definitely know what exactly my bread is being made of (no added conservatives or artificial flavorings and colorants) and for another I always know that my bread is indeed fresh.

So, if I have inspired you now to get your hands dirty and start making your own bread, here´s my recipe for Italian White Bread.

 

Italian White Bread

 

– about 500 g baking flour

– 1 tsp dried yeast

– 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp sugar

– about 200 – 250 ml warm water

 

For the following I always recommend to use your hands instead of a blender.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl, form a little hollow in the middle in which you pour the water.

Slowly blend together the water in the middle with the flour lying around by doing slow circles with one hand.

When the flour and the water are mixed the kneading begins! The longer you need, the better the result will be, so take your time, add extra flour when the dough gets sticky and knead away! About 5 minutes. When the dough feels like the velvety skin of a peach (or in Jamie Oliver´s words “like a baby bottom” – I´ll never forget that one 😉 ), you´ve reached your goal.

Now cover your dough with a clean kitchen towel and leave the bowl in a steadily warm place – in winter I use a little trick: I fill a hot-water bottle half with hot water, wrap it in a towel, put my bowl on that and wrap another towel around it all. Leave for about 1 – 2 hours.

When the dough has visibly risen, knead it now back again with a bit of flour. Leave it again in a warm place for about 2 hours.

Before you put your dough in the oven (about 200 degrees Celsius), you knead the dough one last time and form it in whatever shape you like. Make incisions with a sharp knife to help it rise in the oven.

Bake for about 30 minutes, make sure that the bread sounds hollow when you tap it on the bottom. Let it cool down on a rack – or simply tuck into it 😉

Bon appetite! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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78 thoughts on “Breaking Bad…eh, Baking Bread ;)

  1. Because you are an artist, it makes sense to me that you appreciate baking. Good bread is one of those things that is truly more than the sum of it’s parts. It’s a bit like alchemy.
    Here I am just back from a five mile run and you’ve made me hungry for bread. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Óglach! 🙂
      And I think you´re absolutely spot on about baking being an act of alchemy! I once had a professor who was equally stunned by the baking process as I am. She pointed out how magical it is that the dough or the batter changes its condition so entirely and transforms into something new. Quite needless to say that she was one of my favorite teachers 😉
      And I´m sorry for making you hungry after your run! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Italian White Bread – Sarah, please save a piece for me. I am not a baker, so most likely will not take the opportunity to try making this – you are an artist in many ways. I am impressed with your abilities. Hope your weekend is going well. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Puns aside is there anything you’re not good at? 😉
    Just joking about the pun, it’s a pun and an anagram of the highest quality. 🙂 Happy breaking of bread, Sarah and thanks for the recipe, I’ll be sure to consider giving it a go sometime soon. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Cooking in general really does strike me as an art – you start to learn what works and what doesn’t the more you do it, and you certainly get better as it the more you do it. And great food, like great art, just awakens the soul. Baking bread, with all the nuance and difficulties it can present, is more of an art than much of cooking. Who hasn’t been elevated by a warm piece of bread with a perfect crust and a soft inside?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Looks utterly delicious! I am sure it tastes divine too. I’ve been feeling quite virtuous that I’ve persevered with my sourdough bread but I’m in awe of your 10 year study! I can totally see how the longer you practice, the more intuitive it becomes, and I think good bread is very intuitive.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I was a bit disheartened a while ago when I had a few loaves that really weren’t that good. I tried a new recipe for a while which was pretty good, and gave me some new knowledge. I think that has fed into my understanding and now I’ve gone back to my old recipe with more confidence. Speaking of which, I’m off to photograph my breakfast; a latte and a slice of cranberry and walnut sourdough. Needs more walnuts next time, but it passed the Big T “yum” test 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • For me it´s always a risk trying out new recipes though most of the time I`m pleasantly surprised by the outcome 🙂
        But I know how it is when an old recipe fails you – if we would live say 200 years ago we would make some leprechauns or something like that responsible for it! 😉 But as it is, I really don´t know why it happens sometimes. Glad though, that trying out something new helped you recover from that blow!
        Mmmh, your breakfast sounds delicious! Can´t wait to see it! 😀 Personally I always think there can be more walnuts 😉 xxx

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  6. Aaah, I baked a lot of things over the years and yes, bread is not the easiest. Being the granddaughter of a baker and married to a man, who’s family owned a bakery for decades, you might understand I am always nervous about the breads I make. Up till now they still love them, so maybe I inherited their skills 😉
    Your Italian bread looks perfect! I am into gluten-free breads these days 🙂
    XxX

    Liked by 1 person

  7. That looks so lovely and delicious, Sarah! I have tried to bake bread in the past, and it is so difficult. I am truly not a cook. My grandmother was a great one, though, and she made the most delicious rolls. They were huge, the size of saucers! I surely miss those days. I could almost smell your bread too, now I’m hungry! Wonderful job, I’m sure it was most delicious. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, L.T.! 🙂
      Wish I could have tasted one of those saucer sized buns – they sound great!!
      Grandmother´s are usually just perfect in that way (and all others) due to the fact that it was so much more common to bake bread yourself in their days. Luckily one hasn’t to be either baker or cook to enjoy and appreciate a great meal 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I love making bread. I make all of ours in the States but of course here it is hard to justify when you have Artisan Boulangères on every corner. In discussion with myself, I have decided it is essential to my well-being to make a loaf and in honour of your loveliness I will make your loaf. I love trying out new breads! Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, thank you so much, Osyth! I´m sure no one has ever baked a bread in honor of me 😀 And I agree, baking is totally essential to one´s well-being! Though I do see your point living in France it would be quite impossible to resist buying those lovely loaves and creations…;) I´m sure I wouldn’t be able to, especially when it comes to fresh croissants which kind of are my Achilles heel 😉 xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have to limit myself to one croissant a week and be hugely disciplined about it because otherwise I would rapidly begin to resemble a land-logged whale! The loaves are wonderful but actually there is something so rewarding about baking your own …. our family doctor when I was growing up made all the bread for his family because he said he could take out all his frustrations when kneading it and then, suitably calmed could bask in the aroma of the baking loaves and finally have that moment of delight as you break or cut the crust for the first time having meditated a little patience waiting for it to cool to warm rather than piping hot. He was a wonderful man and I am sure that he is the reason I got in to baking. Anyway …. your loaf is in the oven and I feel suitably relaxed and virtuous! Xx

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hahaha! Oh, Osyth! You make me laugh! 😀 And I do understand your comparison very much since I always say I look like a baby seal if I eat one more! 😉 But honestly, so far I´m quite lucky about my weight and will keep eating them! And if it´s going to change I will simply do more sports 😉
        Your family doctor sounded like a very wise man and what a fantastic way to knead your stress away and create something delicious at the same time! So in a way it was good that he felt stressed at times otherwise you wouldn’t have enjoyed the bread! 😉 But I´m sure he would have preferred it to not be so stressed out…
        I wonder now what my doctor does… I see her often riding her bike and think that´s her way of coping with everything.
        Hope the loaf was a success?? I´m just enjoying another fresh slice spread with butter and honey (for my health, not because I´ve got a sweet tooth ; ). xxxxx

        Liked by 1 person

      • The bread is super-delicious, thank you and was exactly what I needed to take a mini-bout of the blues away …. they just blew in but the bread, the process of making it, the smell of baking it and the pleasure of taking it has quite magically banished them away. I can’t imagine how stressful it must be to be a Doctor …. you certainly must find a way to combat it, that’s for sure. Keep taking the medicinal bread and honey and I’m with you on the sport, by the way – if you eat a little more, do a little more is one of my mottos because my life is surely far to short to deprive myself of the delicious! Xxx

        Liked by 1 person

      • I´m so glad the bread helped you! There´s nothing better than to eat good when having the blues in my mind…when the soul is in wanting, you need to make at least your body happy and sometimes that helps to make those black clouds go away. Not always though… That´s why I would never ever abstain from carbohydrates! They´re a miracle food in my mind 🙂
        Too true: life´s to short to deprive oneself of the delicious treasures there are to enjoy! 😀 xxx

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sarah, I wish I could get you to talk sense to my eldest daughter. You must be about the same age, so the same generation of gluten free no carbs foolishness (introduced by my generation undoubtedly) and I just know if she allowed herself to eat as she used to … as I brought her up, she would be less anxious. Anyway, I am glad you are of such a sound mind. Mine is to gently persuade my lost lamb that actually there is no such thing as ‘dirty carbs’ and ‘clean carbs’ – our bodies are actually meant to take in the big boys! Xxx

        Liked by 1 person

      • I´m 35 🙂 And yes, I think it´s a generation thing – many of my friends are either vegan, vegetarian, gluten free and lactose intolerant or simply all together!! It does drive me crazy sometimes and has totally made going out for dinner together into hell. Maybe it´s because my father used to have an Italian Restaurant or just because I´m too stubborn to join all the hypes but I sure never will change any of my eating habits just out of fun or rather no fun 😉 I hope you´ll be successful in persuading your lamb! Give it a bit time, I know vegans that came around after two years and joined the meat eating monsters again 😉 I´m sure it will be the same with gluten etc. – at least I hope so. As you say, our bodies are actually meant for all this, and we can not foresee what dysfunctions it might cause to deprive ourselves of all the good stuff… xxx

        Liked by 1 person

      • She is just 30 so in the same broad basket. And I am sure you are right …. just keep my peace and hold my tongue for a while longer and the tide will turn! Speaking of peace, I wish you a peaceful and beautiful weekend xxx

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you for sharing the recipe Sarah! What an enjoyable read this one😊
    I so agree with you, there’s nothing that beats the aroma of fresh baked bread in the morning! Baking bread is truly an art and 10 years! You’re amazing! 😊
    The satisfaction of making something from scratch is unparalleled. You are a true artist

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I admired your delicious homemade bread! It looks very good. I think the aroma of freshly baked bread is equivalent to roses or chocolate cake. 🙂 I loved slathering butter over it and seeing it melting. Beautiful and artistic in an artisan way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! 🙂 And I don´t think it´s cheating 😉 A friend of mine has one too and the bread tastes just as good 🙂 There´s nothing better than that smell, right? 😉
      Thanks for stopping by, liking and following! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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