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Bake your own Bread in a Box

Bake your own Bread in a Box

By: Cecilia Buyswheeler-Gunther (Read Bio)

Bake your own Bread in a Box
This is the recipe that we place in our Bread in a Box Kits. This will take a little less than 3 hours – most of this time is allowing the dough to sit around and think about things.

Ingredients

1. Measure flour into a big bowl. Stir in 10g of instant yeast. Press your cup into the dry ingredients to make a well, then pour in warm water. Mix together by stirring inside the well with a spoon or clean wet hands, gradually incorporating all the flour. Keep dipping your hands in flour if the dough feels too sticky, dip your hands in water if the dough feels too dry. Mix gently until you can’t see any flour, roll the ball of dough around the walls of the bowl until it comes together - spend no more than 5 minutes on this mixing step.

Once your dough has come together, cover the bowl with a wet dish towel, set aside and let rest for 20 - 30 minutes. (This gives the flour time to soak up all the water).

2. Sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough. Turn the dough out onto the counter (floury side down). Wet your clean hands and pat your dough on the head like a good dog until it is flattened on top - be gentle. Sprinkle the salt on top of the dough, using wet fingertips to quickly stipple the salt into the dough.

Separate the dough into four quarters by pinching or cutting.

Rearrange the four quarters back into the bowl, slightly overlapping, gently press together and stretch up and over to properly incorporate the salt, and make a nice new ball. (see below for directions on stretching and folding dough).

Here’s how to stretch and fold: Yoga for Dough. Reach under the dough and carefully stretch the dough up and fold it over the salt, don’t let it tear - go slow. Give your bowl a quarter turn and do this again, keep turning the bowl and stretching up and over. You will stretch up and over then turn the bowl four times in all. There is no need to knead this dough.

3. By now you will have a nice ball of dough and it will be much harder to fold as the gluten develops.

4. Flip over so the smooth side is on top. Cover and rest for thirty minutes.

5. Stretch and fold a second time. Reach into the bowl and under the dough and stretch the dough again. Up and over. (No need to separate and stack dough this time). Turning the bowl, stretch from all four corners.

6. Flip over. Cover and rest another thirty minutes.

7. Lightly flour the top of your dough and turn your dough out onto the counter, flour side down. Cut into two even pieces. Slowly stretch and shape each piece into a long tongue then gently roll it up. Form a ball by tucking the ends of the roll under the dough. Keep turning and tucking around the base of the ball until it is a nice smooth ball shape. Do the same with your second roll of dough.

8. Set these two balls close together on the parchment paper and, using the paper as a hammock, lift the dough and place it into the baking pan with the parchment paper as a liner. The dough will feel a little big for the pan so jiggle to get the dough balls to drop in. Do not press down, let the dough find its own way in.

9. Turn your oven on to 450F.

Allow your dough to sit quietly, uncovered, and puff up for another 40 minutes or so while your oven heats up. Check your dough for readiness. If you can press a clean floury finger gently into the dough and it leaves an impression, you are ready to bake. Be very gentle.

10. Bake for 30 minutes, then take the loaf out of the oven and set on the counter. Turn the oven down to 400F. Using the parchment paper edges as handles remove the loaf from the pan and put the loaf back into the oven for another 10 minutes, to bake the bottom of the loaf.

Cool. Break the loaf right down the seam and pull the bread apart with your fingers. I know they say you should always wait until the bread is cool before eating but that is nearly impossible sometimes!

Background

When I was a child we would walk home from school along a long sandy New Zealand beach. Incredibly, our school was above the dunes in the curve of the bay and our house was beside the same beach, down from the lighthouse, at the other end of the bay. We walked to school every day, and after school, on sunny days, (and as I remember it all our summer days were long and sunny), we would collect the afternoon bread from the little corner grocery store and walk home along high tide. The bread was white, there were not a lot of bread choices in New Zealand in those days - it was either white or brown, sliced or unsliced or Mum’s home baked ‘healthy’ loaves. These freshly baked store bought loaves were high and crusty and white and shaped like two friendly hills joined at the hip. Unsliced, of course and called a barracuda loaf - why I had no idea at the time- that was just its name. The bread was waiting in a brown paper bag with our name written on it and handed to us across the counter, it was still warm and smelt divine, though divine was not a word I would have used then - hungry was the word I used then.

Carrying the daily loaf of bread home from the grocery store after school was a torturous job - but we were not tortured for long. The barracuda loaf had a crease across the valley of the bready hillocks which enabled us to pull the loaf just slightly apart, dig in with our grubby little fingers and gobble it up from the inside out. Before we got home we would carefully close the loaf back together, hoping the unmarked crust would hide the thievery. After a while Mum gave up on making a fuss, she just sliced the bread up for our lunches the next day, she would butter around the holes and place the filling just where it was guaranteed to fall out at school, in front of everyone, and call it good.

The recipe above re-creates the barracuda loaf from our beach, though without the grubby fingered children. To create the barracuda shape: just before its final rise divide and shape the dough into two balls, then packed tightly together in the loaf tin for the final rise.

Posted on July 07 2020