Late Night Bread Baking

by - June 26, 2012

On Sunday afternoon, I decided I'd love a loaf of homemade bread. Only this time, I didn't want to use the bread machine. I'm not a baker type, although I've ventured into it slowly with the scones and dabbled in baking brownies from scratch (just stick to the box, Paige), and I decided to experiment. In the early afternoon, I filled a measuring cup with just over one cup of warm water and added 2 1/2 teaspoons of yeast, 2 tsp of sugar, and 2 tsp of white flour. I mixed it all with a whisk and let it sit until the evening. Around 9pm, I decided it was time to bake bread, so I found a recipe online, and made my own tweaks, since I didn't want to stay up past 11pm waiting for the dough to rise and bake. Here was the gist.

3 cups bread flour
3 tbs sugar (it was less than 1/4 cup but might have been more than 3 tbs. Just sweeten it to your personal preference.)
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbs olive oil
1 cup of my yeasty water

I mixed all the dry ingredients before adding the wet and then mixed it all with a giant fork. When the dough was still to sticky, I added more flour one tablespoon at a time until it wasn't sticky to the touch, but wasn't dry either. I then let it rise for about 40 minutes in a warmed oven with the door open and a damp towel on top. I kneaded and then transferred the dough to a loaf pan sprayed with Baker's Joy and once again let it rise in a warm oven with the door open. Once the dough was about an inch below the top of the pan, I took out the pan, heated the oven to 350 F and baked the bread for 40 min.

The bread rose nicely while baking and had very few large bubbles. It had just a hint of sweetness and great texture. It wasn't too fluffy or too dense.

Last night I made up a new starter using the same mix as before, but added an extra tsp of sugar and let it sit covered overnight. This morning, there was evidence of a middle-of-the-night starter explosion in the kitchen. I split out the mix into two jars and added warm water to bring each jar to the 1 cup mark and mixed in 2 tsp of sugar and 2 tsp of flour into each and mixed.

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  1. I don't bake bread either. I thought you put the yeast in with the dough. I didn't realize you started it first and only then added it.

  2. When I make bread in the machine, I typically mix the dry yeast into warm water and then into the dry ingredients. The results are okay, but the bread isn't delicious and misses that rich flavor. I've read a lot of comments about letting the yeast and warm water sit at least 10 minutes, and figured that letting it sit longer would make it even better. What I ended up with was like a quick sourdough starter. Typically, sourdough starter takes days to make when you don't add dry yeast to it. I just jump-started the process and now I feed it daily and don't need to add anymore dry yeast. I just baked again yesterday with the starter and it rose wonderfully.

  3. I am bookmarking this page :-). I might have to give it a go soon.

  4. I bake every week, but I use a no-knead method. just throw all the ingredients into a bucket, stir, then lid it and let it set. after 2 hrs, I put it in the fridge and pinch off a piece whenever I need to bake something. we use it for free-form artisan loaves, pizza, rolls, bread sticks, etc. because I'm horrible at timing and kneading and all that, I had to go no-knead. why put the effort and time in if it's unnecessary?



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