After enjoying the new super moon/eclipse/equinox/Ostara day last Friday AND our tasty little chicken I thought it was time for some less gruesome kitchen activities.
I love bread. I think Dr. Atkins might be the devil incarnate but I have to admit when I follow his advice my butt shrinks. Anyway…
I LOVE BREAD. I know many people think bread is “difficult to make.” Have no fear; each year there are only 3 deaths worldwide due to improper bread making attempts and most of those are in Slovenia; so statistically the risk is low on this continent. I’m sure bread machines are a big time saver but I highly recommend at least trying free form bread.
I totally agree that kneading is a pain- but it is a good workout AND tension reliever. If you are worried about the floury-mess kneading dough on the counter can create; try mixing and kneading inside a large deep bowl. It keeps the mess contained and you don’t antique your entire kitchen.
It is like you are your own bread machine (A bread machine can be used to mix, kneed and proof this dough. I won’t judge you, but Jebus might.) A counter top mixer with a dough hook is my all time favorite bread-baking helper so if you have one, use it.
The most important ingredient in bread making is patience. Most recipes will follow a basic pattern; activate yeast, mix, kneed, proof, punch down, form, proof, bake.
The braiding might look difficult but it is easier than braiding hair. After the dough doubles in size; turn it out on to a floured board (you don’t need much.) I flatten the dough into a long log and cut it into five strips leaving the top connected.
For smaller breaded loafs I roll the dough into snakes but for a big loaf like this I think it is easier just to cut the strands.
A three strand braid will do just fine. Any odd number of strands can be easily braided as long as you remember- over, under, over. Unlike braiding hair I approach braiding bread like weaving, don’t try to hold all the strands and braid the dough french braid style.
The trick is to fold the 3rd and 5th strand up, then just lay the 1st strand across, like so:
Lay the 3rd and 5th strands back down and repeat (now the 2nd strand is the 1st.) Again, there is no way to mess this up and every attempt will result in edible bread. No matter the shape.
I placed my braided dough in a buttered ceramic bunt pan but it can be made on a flat pan too. I placed five raw eggs all around. They will cook with the bread.
Then cover with a damp paper towel and tea cloth. This is also the time to turn the oven on. Make sure it proofs in a warm area free of drafts.
I like to use a paper towel under the cloth one because during proofing parts of the loaf inevitably dry to the covering. When this happens I can sprinkle the paper towel with water; wait a couple seconds and it comes right off. I often have a tougher time when the dough affixes to a cloth towel.
After proofing; the eggs are becoming swallowed by the ever rising loaf.
When I can lightly poke the dough and it springs back, it’s time to bake. I washed it with egg yoak, butter and salt. Hey, “why not?”
Less than an hour later.
I was so excited about fresh baked bread; I ate first and took pictures later. I’m not sorry. Eggy-carby sweet goodness. Now I need help eating it…
Ok, no I don’t.
Make your own.