This is most definitely my favorite thing in the world, Particularly with butter. and lots of it.
To make the bread eating experience really divine, you need one that came out of the oven just…now. After a short wait (explanation will follow).
I have some history of bread making (not too long, 5 years, in which i made bread once a week or every 2 weeks, which is long enough for a ‘home baker’) but I will try to keep this post short.
The recipe for really sexy breads starts with sour dough (מחמצת, שאור). There are many kinds and many paradigms, I simply put water and flour 1:1, and let it rest. Mix every day. Feed once a week ( I actually don’t mix every day, but it would have been better if I did). This dough becomes smelly, and with tiny bubbles, which come from the live yeast. Dark fluid on top of the sour dough are dead yeast. Yuck. This means they were not treated right, not fed. Their food is flour, and some water. Normally you throw some of the sour dough away when you feed it, so it won’t become too big and take over your house (it can happen!).
So, we have sour dough, now for the bread.
- 500gr bread flour, a mix of several kind or just one. I usually make 50% white 50% whole wheat or ray.
- 18-19 gr of salt
- 120-220 gr sour dough. for ray 200gr is good, for whiter breads I usually use less.
- 100-150 gr of “others”: nuts, dried fruit, seeds of several kinds…
- 4-10gr of fresh yeast, depends on the flour and the weather
- water, preferably cold or room temp.
- spices, like coriander seeds, cumin seeds, saffron or others can be added
- vegetables, like carrots or zucchini can be added, grounded
- honey, thahinni, dates honey (silaan), molasses…
- you can use lemon juice, orange juice, apple juice or BEER to flavor the dough
- cooked potatoes, rice, brown rice, barley..
So, the possibilities are endless. But for the start, better stick to the basics. Flour, salt, sour dough and some nuts, and yeast to make sure it rises.
I don’t know how much water I put in the dough, it changes between seasons, waters, flours and additions (vegetables for example, have water, so you need less water from other sources) Just add as much water as you can, while the dough is workable by hand (unless you are a machine). Ray bread comes out a bit sticky, and needs to be left for 10-30 min before kneading by hand. White flour can take a lot of water and still be easy to use, but might stick to the pan later, or lose shape. Just work you way around this dough. It is worth it.
OK now, lets be practical. mix the ingredients (flour, yeast, sour dough, salt, don’t forget the salt!! it is extremely important, seriously) and mix with the water, using a mixer with a bread peddle / hook. Add the ‘flavors’ and mix for 10 minutes or so. At this point you can set the dough aside for rising in the mixing pot, but usually you leave it in the pan which is either a pan for rising dough (and should be full or flour, for you to be able to take out the bread after rising) or for actually baking in. In any case it should be covered in a wet cloth. Always wet (i.e. you need to moist it every once in a while). The bread should rest for 4,5,6 12 hours. Depends on the weather, the yeast, the water.. the bread.. When it doubled in size, beat the dough and let it rise again. Then you can bake.
Oven should be as hot as it can (200-220C). A pizza stone really really does help. Heat the oven for AT LEAST 30min before the bread goes in. Take the bread out of the ‘rising pan’ on the board covered in flour, cut a few stripes across the bread, and slide it into the oven, or put it the pan with the dough (again, cut a few stripes across). Put in a pan with water (some people use ice cubes in the bottom of the oven, I have a pan I ruined just
for this cause) bake for 40 min or so (usually you start with 220 for 10 min and then lower to 190C for the rest, but my oven goes up to 200C.. so I don’t bother) knock on the bottom of the bread to see if it’s ready. If ready, it should sound like it is hollow, and yes, you can easily hear the difference.
The bread comes out with a crunchy crust and covered with a lot of flour, and very tasty. You have to wait before you slice it though, cause slicing it while it is hot will cause all the steam to come out and the bread will dry out very quickly. If you want extra and long lasting rough crust, you should leave the bread to cool and put it in the oven again, after some time (like, in the morning before breakfast for champions).
Now, it has been (AT LEAST) half an hour since you took the bread out of the oven, you may cut the first slice, and take the first bit (the kiss!). This is the ultimate best, which only the bakers can enjoy (yes, the rest of you only get second best! which is also really awesome).
So, yeap. This is the real deal, bread at home, and good bread! Make sure you have good butter, and wine.