Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Best & Easiest Bread . . . but really

Well... it's been a long, challenging and eventful year. But after some time away from the blog and from a lot of things, I'm pulling up my boot straps, giving it another go and I firmly believe we'll be better than ever this go around! So praise the Lord, let's eat some bread!
In all seriousness, this is the easiest bread you will ever, ever, ever make. It's by far the most forgiving and somehow magically the best we've ever tasted over here at the Cardinal Cottage. AND what's really fun about it is that you can mix and match your add-in ingredients however you please, really. Meaning, you can make the basic version and then just stir in whatever the heck you want and it'll taste great. The one pictured is our Rosemary Sea Salt version and it's our favorite yet... although the cinnamon raisin loaf was pretty amazing, too. :) Did I mention it only rises for 15 minutes and bakes for 15 minutes? Win and win.

-1 & 3/4 cups all-purpose OR whole wheat flour (your preference)
-1 & 3/4 cups bread flour
-1 & 1/2 cups warm water
-1 TBSP honey
-1 & 1/2 tsp salt
-1 & 1/2 TBSP yeast
-mix-ins... rosemary, sea salt, all spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins, cranberries, nuts, etc etc etc! 
**the possibilities are ENDLESS**

In a large bowl, dissolve the honey and salt in the warm water. Once combined, stir in the yeast and let it sit for 10 minutes, until the mixture is foamy. Pre-heat your oven to 450 and put the oven rack in the middle of your oven. Stir in both flours with a wooden spoon until well combined. If you need to do a quick knead with your hands to make sure it's all well mixed, do that but make sure it's not too sticky for your hands. If it is, add in 1 TBSP of flour at a time just until it's not super sticky. Be careful not to make it dry though. ;) I never add any extra flour in, it just takes a little patience stirring is all. IF YOU'RE MAKING A PLAIN LOAF, your mixture is done here. IF YOU'RE MAKING A FUN LOAF, here's how i measure out the add-ins:

Dried Fruit or vegetables such as sun-dried tomatoes, olives, cranberries, raisins, etc:
-1/4 cup (heaping)

Nuts and other grain add-ins:
-1/4 cup

Spices and herbs such as rosemary, sea salt, cinnamon, basil, dill, etc:
-1 TBSP each and go heavier from there if you prefer.....
-2 tsp sea salt... adjust to taste after you've tried it from there
Once your flour is stirred in, add the mix-ins and stir with the wooden spoon or just use your own magical hands at that point. Gather the dough into a ball and roll it into a log 12-15 inches long. Rest it diagonally on a lightly greased cookie sheet and let it rise for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes, score the log diagonally top to bottom with a knife, about 1/2 inch deep and bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden. Eat it like a baguette, slice it for sandwiches, tear it off and dip it in gobs of olive oil, whatever your fancy. ENJOY!!

LOTS and lots and lots of love from my kitchen to yours!