Baking bread always reminds me of Thelma. She was a strong loud woman who I had the luck to call grandma. Her recipe called for 9 cups of flour, sugar and a lot of Crisco. When we would drive out to La Rue Ohio on Sundays for dinner it was always a treat when she’d serve snacks of toasted bread with her canned jams and butter. I’d sit with the grown-ups around the table as they’d smoke cigarettes and drink coffee.
Michael Pollan’s new book “Cooked” with its chapter on bread recently got me interested again in baking. As a very humble compromise between Thelma and Tartine I’ve been using Michel Roux Jr’s recipe for Olive Oil Bread and spiking it with a little whole wheat flour to capture some of that aroma and flavor.
I always want to shout out “BOB!” just like Thelma used in order to get grandpa’s attention.
500g strong unbleached stoneground bread flour
2 tbsp. whole wheat flour
12g fresh yeast (yeah it’s not sourdough starter… yet)
275ml warm water
4 tbsp. olive oil
Put a tea pot on to boil; use this to prep the raising environment later.
Dissolve the yeast in warm water.
Using a mixer with a bread hook; mix the yeast and flour until silken and elastic. About 15 minutes.
Add the olive oil and salt and knead for an additional 5 minutes.
Pour boiling water into a medium to small bowl and place in the microwave to provide a warm slightly humid environment.
Cover the dough and place in microwave to rise for 40 minutes.
Knock back the dough and place into a bowl with a piece of lightly oiled parchment paper then let rise for 20 minutes.
Using parchment paper ends, pick up the dough & place in a casserole pot (helps provide a naturally round shape).
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (~230 Centigrade).
Lightly brush top of the loaf with milk and sprinkle with kosher salt.
Bake for 30 minutes or until cooked… should make a nice thumping sound when you tap it.