Is there anything better than the delicious aroma of fresh baked bread? We’ve got two of our very favorite bread recipes. They are made to share!
BY RYAN SPELTS
I don’t know about you, but I have a secret love affair with bread. Especially homemade bread! It may not be as popular today as it once was because of the rise in gluten intolerance and keto/low-carb diets, but I still love it. I have fond memories of my mom making homemade bread or rolls, and I would eat them until I thought I would burst. She also made wonderful cinnamon rolls, which I have yet to meet their match. And yes, I have been to the Straw Market (good, but not my mom’s!). A couple of years ago, I got the itch to start making bread on my own. I had never really done it on my own, more than helping my mom or wife put the ingredients in a bowl to mix up. I always assumed that bread-making was too difficult, took too much time, etc. Then, I stumbled across some recipe blogs and articles regarding making artisan bread in 5 minutes. You may have even heard of this trend of making simple artisan bread via the book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg. The first thing I noticed is that the recipe is super simple.
There are 4 ingredients: water, yeast, salt and flour. That is it. I thought, “Even I can make that!” And I did. We started making bread and perfecting the approach. Then, we started passing out bread to friends and neighbors. Soon, we started getting requests for bread from friends who heard about it or tasted it at a neighborhood party. It is awesome and tastes amazing, and people think you are amazing for making it, even though it is super easy!
Pre Heat: 450 degrees F
3 cups warm water 100 degrees F
1 1/2 Tablespoons Active Dry Yeast
1 1/2 Tablespoons Coarse Salt
6 1/2 – 7 Cups of Flour (I use bread flour but All Purpose
Here is how you do it: First, you want 3 Cups of water that is roughly 100o and not more than 105o put in a large bowl. Add in 1.5 Tablespoons of Yeast. If you don’t have a 1/2 Tablespoon, it is just 1 1/2 teaspoons. Then, add in 1 1/2 Tablespoons of salt. (I use coarse kosher salt.) I usually put in slightly more salt than it calls for as a personal preference. Then, put in between 6 1/2 to 7 cups of flour and mix everything together. I usually start with 6 cups and then add as needed to make the dough the right consistency (damp but firm). Let the dough sit in the bowl with a towel over it for between 1 hour to overnight (if overnight, put it in the fridge; it will slow the rise).
Once it has risen, put flour down on the counter, take the dough out of the bowl, and place it on the flour. Form it into a giant burrito shape. Cut it in half and form two freeform loaves. You can either do football shaped or round bowl-shaped loaves. Then, you will let it rise again for about 30-40 min. I put the loaves on a cookie sheet with corn meal underneath to keep them from sticking. I let the loaves rest or rise on that sheet instead of trying to transfer them before cooking.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Put the cookie sheet in the oven and then pour roughly 1 cup of water in the bottom of the oven right before closing the door; this will send steam up to the bread. This crucial step makes the golden-brown outer crust on the bread that is so beautiful. Right before putting in the oven, I use my sharpest knife to cut a couple shallow slits in the top. Sometimes an X, other times just 2 or 3 parallel lines. Those keep the bread from deforming during cooking. You can get fancier, if you want, with the lines.
You can also add additional flavors to your dough if you want to try some other flavors, but my favorite is still the base bread. I have tried Mediterranean flavor (olives, rosemary, sage and Parmesan cheese). I also tried cinnamon, raisins, and sugar. Cook 30 minutes, and you are done! The house will smell awesome, and my guess is you will go through an entire loaf for dinner, maybe more. It will keep overnight, but don’t store it in plastic; just put a towel over it on the counter and it will be great tomorrow too.
Homemade Soft Pretzel Bites
BY MELISSA SPELTS
Ryan’s sister, Olivia, sent this recipe out to all the sisters in the family. She found it on a website called twopeasandtheirpod.com. These looked so delicious, I had to try them. As I followed the recipe, I made a couple of changes, due to the ingredients I had in my cupboard. I seriously had so much fun following the instruction and pulling this recipe together. The icing on the cake was my family’s reaction when they tried these yummy pretzel bites. Many smiles and thumbs up!!
1 1⁄2 c. warm water
2 Tbsp. brown sugar (They called for light I used dark)
2 1⁄4 tsp. active dry yeast
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter melted
2 1⁄2 tsp kosher salt
4 1⁄2 to 5 c. all-purpose flour
olive oil (they called for vegetable oil, I used olive oil)
3 quarts water
1/3c. baking soda for boiling the pretzels
1 whole egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. cold water
Coarse sea salt
For the cheese sauce:
1⁄2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1⁄2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1⁄2 c. milk
8 ounces cheddar cheese grated
For the Pretzels
Mix 1 1⁄2 c. warm water, sugar, yeast, and butter in a bowl of your mixer and let sit for 5 minutes
Add salt and flour and mix on low until combined.
Continue to mix for 3 to 4 minutes while slowly adding flour until the dough is off the edges of your machine.
Drop your dough in a bowl and cover will a clean towel for an hour.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Boil 3 quarts of water in a pot and add baking soda slowly so it wouldn’t boil over.
Divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll them out into long ropes. Cut the dough into one-inch pieces to make the pretzel bites. Boil in small batches for 30 seconds, using a slotted spoon to pull them out of hot water. Place them on a cookie sheet, sprinkle coarse sea salt generously on top and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown. Pull out and place on a cooling rack.
Dip in yummy cheese sauce and eat!!!