After yesterday’s blizzard bringing us over one foot of snow, today’s weather forecast expects more snow starting at 11pm… our flight departs from Boston to Portugal at 10 pm. We are literally flying away from another blizzard.
And so I am doing my very last-minute packing for the trip: Headphones… check; Neck pillows… check; Dry yeast…check. What!!?
I have packed a lot of things in my life, but this is the first time I pack Yeast. The reason is because, where we are going there is a very old brick oven. Not sure if we can still use it for baking, but we are giving this old oven a try… bring it back to life with some bread… or like in the my childhood memories, with a pizza!
You see, my first pizza was not from “Domino’s” or “Papa Johns”:
…I was a child, living in Portugal in an island with no Pizzerias. My mother craved the American pepperoni pizza, and so she got some bread dough….there was no jars of tomato sauce with basil, so she used sliced tomatoes instead…there was no pepperoni, so she used chorizo… there was no mozzarella cheese, so she used Sao Jorge cheese.
When the pizza was done she was mad and disapointed…the crust was too thick, the cheese did not string, it was nothing like the pizza she was craving!! But my brother and I loved it and were so excited every Summer day my mother baked this delushious pizza…and every time I would hear my mother’s complaints about this very bad pizza of hers.
When I was older and moved to a bigger island with Pizzerias and jarred tomato sauce and stringy cheese and pepperoni… I ordered a pizza, and was very disappointed!!! My mother made the best pizza and she didn’t know it.
Well, back to the present and my very easy bread recipe… Once in a while I’ll do this bread dough…it’s like having a bakery in my fridge.
It will keep “growing” and can stay up to 2 weeks in the fridge. Whenever I want a homemade bread or buns or pizza crust, it will take me 5 minutes to dig-out the amount needed, give the form to bake in the oven.
I have notice that as days go by, the dough bread raises less and starts to resemble and taste like a rustic sour bread. Therefor I usually start by making 1 bread…
A few days later I bake a couple of pizzas…
…yes, Homemade Pizza is kind of a big deal in our house….
And finally I’ll make a garlic bread for crustinis or croutons.
Here’s the recipe:
- 3 cups lukewarm water
- 1½ T. granulated yeasts (1½ packets)
- 1½ T. kosher or other coarse salt
- 6½ cups (29.25 oz.) all-purpose white flour
Mixing and Storing the Dough
1. Warm the water slightly: It should feel just a little warmer than body temperature, about 100ºF.
2. Add yeast and salt to the water in a five-quart bowl, or preferably, in a resealable, lidded (not airtight) plastic food container or food-grade bucket. Don’t worry about getting it all to dissolve. (I added the yeast, then the flour and then the salt on top of the flour to avoid killing any of the yeast, but apparently this is unnecessary.)
3. Mix in the flour: Add all of the flour at once, measuring it with dry-ingredient measuring cups, by gently scooping the flour, then sweeping the top level with a knife or spatula; don’t press down into the flour as you scoop or you’ll throw off the measurement by compressing. Mix with a wooden spoon. If necessary, reach into your mixing vessel with very wet hands and press the mixture together. Don’t knead! It isn’t necessary. You’re finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches. Dough should be wet and loose enough to conform to the shape of the container.
4. Allow to rise: Cover with a lid (not airtight) that fits well to the container you’re using. Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flattens on the top), approximately two hours. You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period, but fully refrigerated dough is less sticky and is easier to work with. So, the first time you try this method, it’s best to refrigerate the dough overnight before shaping a loaf.
On Baking Day:
5. Sprinkle the surface of your refrigerated dough with flour. Pull up and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size), using a serrated knife. Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won’t stick to your hands. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. The correctly shaped final product will be smooth and cohesive. The entire process should take no more than 30 to 60 seconds.
6. Place the shaped ball on a cornmeal-covered cutting board. Allow the loaf (uncovered) to rest for about 40 minutes.
7. Dust the top of the loaf liberally with flour, which will allow the slashing knife to pass without sticking. Make several ¼-inch-deep slashes across the bread. (Again, if you omit this step, your bread will taste the same.)
8. With a quick forward jerking motion of the wrist, slide the loaf off the board onto the preheated oven.
9. If instead of using a brick oven you are using a regular gas oven, preheat the oven to 450ºF. Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on any other shelf that won’t interfere with the rising bread. (This helps to make the crust crispy, but your bread will still be delicious if you omit this step.) Butter a Pyrex dish or baking pan and place the bread in the pan. Quickly but carefully pour about one cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray and close the oven door to trap the steam. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch. Allow to cool completely, preferably on a wire rack.
And that is it.
Now, Farewell and wish me Good Luck… I have ahead of me a Friday rush hour in Boston’s traffic, Icy roads, an airport filled with delayed passangers, a 5 hours night flight followed by 2 plane connection flights in very small (tiny) airplanes to our destination… Adventure is out there!! 😉