With another school year almost done, parents and grandparents can expect the “I’m bored” comment at some point during the summer break, when the little ones have to come in from their wild escapades in the great outdoors. Why not arrange a time with the kids to try baking.
For the faint of heart, Camosun Culinary Arts will be offering a 1-week summer camp in July through Continuing Education (http://camosun.ca/ce/foodbeverage.html under the Cooking Classes). For the rest of you, with a little encouragement and patience and some basic knowledge provided here, you too can bake delicious, fresh bread.
Bread has been part of the human existence for more than 5,000 years. It’s a complex chemical process, fundamentally involving just four basic ingredients: flour, water, salt, and yeast. While the results are as miraculous as they are varied, the process of actually making bread is quite easy. The ingredients are blended together to form a soft pliable Playdough-like dough that most kids love to ‘play’ with. While the kids are having great fun massaging, prodding and generally abusing the dough, this kneading action will form the gluten that provides the bread’s structure.
You can add some flavourings at this point. After the dough has had a chance to rest and relax in the summer heat, it begins to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide that magically makes the dough rise. Once it has doubled in size, the excitement of ‘punching’ down the dough—actually, more of a wrestle to equalize the CO2 bubbles—never fails to be a gleeful experience for all!
After that, it is just a matter of creating its final shape: a round loaf, a plait, a knot or a simple pan of dough for a pizza base. Then, let the shaped dough rest one more time to ‘proof’ before putting it into the oven for baking. As that steaming, hot delicious aroma of starchy goodness emerges from the oven, I guarantee that everyone will be ready tear into it right away. Lather slices with melting butter, fresh berry jam, hummus, cheese or even peanut butter! Oh, another blissful kitchen moment in paradise!
Apologies to all the gluten and peanut allergic folks out there. Look for something gluten and peanut free next month. I promise!
Find all of Steven’s contact info on the Camosun Culinary Arts portal listing page here on GoWestShore.
Yield: 2 loaves or 24 buns
400 ml / 1 1/2 cups Water, warm (Variable. Add more if needed)
10 g / 1 tbsp Active dry yeast
700 g / 6 cups Bread flour
60 ml / 1/4 cup Olive oil (reserve some for brushing)
10 g / 2 tsp Salt
- Place warm water in a large bowl. Stir in yeast and allow to dissolve for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent it from becoming ‘mud’ at the bottom.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl. Combine to form a dough until it pulls away cleanly from the side of the bowl. If it feels too dry, add more water—earlier rather than later. If it feels too sticky, add a little more flour, but not too much! NOTE: Softer dough is better than stiffer dough!
- Work the dough until it is smooth and elastic with a folding and ‘pushing into the table’ motion.
- Place back in the mixing bowl and cover with a damp towel until it has doubled in size.
- Fold in herbs, spices, cheeses, garlic, chopped olives, dried fruit, or any other flavouring components (or nothing at all, if you are a purist!). Shape into loaves, small rolls, or press into an oiled baking pan or cookie sheet.
- Brush lightly with olive oil and let rise again until almost doubled in size. Finish with more toppings, if desired.
- Preheat oven to 400 degree F (200 degree C) for loaves; 425 degree F (220 degree C) for rolls. Bake for 30 minutes (loaves) or 15 minutes (rolls).
- Cool on a wire rack before slicing.