In line with my "don't wait until we're on the farm to try out new idea's" decision, I made up a batch of my bread recipe at the beginning of the week, and it occurred to me, and I was asked by African Bliss, who contacted me, to put the recipe on my blog.
Unfortunately, though, at the moment I am having to cook it in my electric oven in Cape Town - but I also cooked a couple of chickens at the same time - I hate to use an electric oven for only one item. I can't wait to see how this recipe works in the Dover stove.
It is dead easy - no kneading required - which with my old "tennis elbow" (even though I don't play / have never played tennis) injury it suits me just fine. The recipe comes from the following site: http://www.motherearthnews.com/Real-Food/Artisan-Bread-In-Five-Minutes-A-Day.aspx?page=2
What you need to do is the following:
Take a large container (with loose fitting lid) and add to it :-
3 cups / 750ml warm water (I find that using water at 107oF / 41oC works brilliantly for me)
3 level teaspoons / 15 gm (1 1/2 sachets) granulated yeast
3 teaspoons / 45gm brown sugar
Mix all the above together and allow to sit until frothy - about 20 - 30 minutes.
1 - 1 1/4 tbs / 20 gm salt (I use either Himalayan Rock salt or Maddon sea salt)
6 1/2 cups / 750gm 50/50 mix of white and brown bread flour (that way I get the men in my life to eat some brown bread without too much fuss - why are most men fixated on white bread??)
When the water/yeast/sugar is frothy slowly add the flour and salt to the mixture - approximately a level cup at a time, stirring to combine. You can use an electric mixer or food processor with a dough attachment, but it not necessary - a wooden spoon / silicone spoon works great - so rather save the electricity. All it takes is 5 minutes to mix the flour into the yeast water. It results in a loose dough which will conform to the container.
Cover loosely (do not use a screw top jar - it could explode from the trapped gases) and set aside to rise for 2 hours at room temperature. (Longer rising time will not hurt the dough - I have left it for 4 hours) You can use any amount of the dough after this time, but if you refrigerate it, it is less stricky to work with than dough which is at room temperature. Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François (the authors of this recipe) recommend that the dough be refrigerated for at least 3 hours before shaping a loaf.
I don't have a pizza wheel, so I use a pliable vegetable cutting board which I liberally dust with cornflour. This is so that the dough can easily be transferred to the baking stone in your oven.
When you are ready to bake bread, remove the dough container from the fridge and sprinkle some extra flour on the top surface. Then cut off a large grapefruit sized piece with a serrated knife. Rub a little flour on your hands and holding the dough, stretch and fold over two of the corners to the bottom on all four sides - rotating the ball as you go. You should end up with dough which has a bunched base of the four corners - this will flatten out during the resting and baking.
Now place your dough on the pizza wheel / cutting board and let it rest uncovered for 40 minutes.
20 - 30 minutes before baking, place your baking stone inside and turn your oven on to 400oF / 200oC. I don't have a genuine baking stone, so I use one of the extra floor tiles which were left over from our floor - I reckon that a good scrub and then baking at 200oC eliminates 99.9% of the germs. Also, place an ovenproof container on a lower shelf in the oven - this is to hold the water which is added when you place your dough in the oven.
Dust the top of the bread liberally with flour and slash the top with a serrated knife - a couple of slashes, or a deep cross - whatever. This helps the dough expand during cooking.
When the oven is at the correct temperature open the door, and with a forward jerking movement slide the dough off the pizza wheel / cutting board and onto the baking stone. Then quickly pour a cup of hot water into the ovenproof container below and close the door to trap the resulting steam in the oven.
Bake for 30 minutes until it is nicely browned and firm to the touch.
Allow to cool on a wire rack.
It produces the crispiest crust and the most moist centre I have ever eaten. And it is also good the next day - or even the day after - if the loaf lasts that long!
Return the remaining dough in the container to the fridge and use within 2 weeks. You can apparently even freeze portion sizes in an airtight container and defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003