Easy Peasy FAST Homemade Bread

Oct 27 2012

There are places in my house that require my attention.

My little boys’ room, for example, is just begging for some quality time.

So I had to really put on my thinking cap to find a way — any way at all – to avoid the mess.

And that’s where homemade bread comes in. The perfect solution! Fall is in the air. Baking must be done. OK, so maybe we can’t actually walk in our house without tripping, but it finally smells terrific around here, and I think we can all agree that’s a stunning victory.

In case you need a way to avoid the mess, too, I’ll share the bread recipe with you here, adapted from my Easy Peasy FAST Homemade Cinnamon Rolls. Adaption and repeating successes wherever and whenever possible are some of the best keys to raising millions of children.

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Easy Peasy FAST Homemade Bread
or Focaccia or Pizza or Rolls – you pick!

 Here’s what you’ll need for the dough:

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 5 cups flour

Step 1: Dissolve 1 tablespoon of sugar in 2 cups of warm water. You can tell the water’s the right temperature if you’d stick a baby in it. (Please note: sticking an actual baby in water you’re going to use for bread is generally frowned upon in the culinary community. Make sure no one’s looking is what I’m saying.)

Step 2: After the baby’s out of the water, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of active dry yeast on top. Let it sit for 5 minutes until it gets foamy and stinky. There’s another baby joke here, but I’m going to rise above it. (Rise above it. Yeast. Bread rising. Get it? Har har.) (Sorry.)

Step 3: Dump remaining ingredients (5 cups flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 2 tablespoons olive oil) into a mixer with a bread hook.* Add the yeasty sugar water to the bowl and mix until it’s all blended into a lump.

*If you don’t have a mixer or are without a bread hook, just dump all of this into a bowl and mix it by hand. No need for fancy equipment. Just blend it all up ’til it pulls like this.

Step 4: Dump your dough lump into an oiled bowl.

 Cover with a towel, and set it in a warm spot to rise for 20 minutes.

It’s critical at this stage to distract yourself by reading a book or skimming a magazine or refereeing a fight between your children; anything to keep your mind off of cleaning your boys’ room. If you’re not very, very careful, you might try to convince yourself that cleaning for just a few minutes couldn’t hurt, but we all know where that thinking gets us, right? To more cleaning. And, friends? I don’t want that for any of us. Trust me on this. Learn from my poor choices. Cleaning begets cleaning begets cleaning. Stop the madness, mamas. WE CAN OVERCOME.

Step 5: Squish your dough into an oiled pan. You can choose: 2 9×13 casserole dishes OR 2 large cast iron skillets for focaccia bread. Or you can make 2 loaves using bread pans. Or 2 rounded loaves on baking stones. Or lots of little rounds for rolls. That’s probably what I love most about this recipe. Versatility!

This time, I made one focaccia loaf and one round bread loaf. I squished my focaccia into a cast iron skillet thusly.

And I drizzled it with olive oil.

For my round loaf (pictured finished here),

I punched down the other half of the dough, made it into a sphere, and put it in another oiled cast iron skillet.

Step 6: Cover and let rise 10 minutes.

Step 7: Add toppings if you like. For focaccia, I suggest 1/2 cup of shredded cheese or thinly sliced onions or 1 tablespoon of the herb-of-your-choice (fresh basil? yum!). I put leeks on 1/2 of our focaccia this time. Highly recommend!

Step 8: Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes until golden brown.

And oh, man. Is there anything better than fresh, homemade, just-out-of-the-oven bread?

Sure, we may live in squalor, but we’re eating fresh, homemade bread while we do it. I say those things cancel each other out, don’t you?

In fact, the only real downside to this entire plan is the fact that this bread only takes an hour from start to finish. Which means I’m going to have to find a lot more baking to do.

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Easy Peasy FAST Homemade Bread
Ingredients and Directions: The Concise, Boring Version

Dough:

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 5 cups flour

Directions:

  1. Dissolve 1 tablespoon sugar in 2 cups warm water.
  2. Sprinkle yeast on top of sugar-water and let sit for 5 minutes ’til yeast is foaming.
  3. Dump remaining ingredients (5 cups flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 2 tablespoons olive oil) in a mixer. Add the yeasty sugar water. Mix with a dough hook ’til everything is combined and sticky.
  4. Put sticky dough into an oiled bowl. Cover. Let rise 20 minutes.
  5. Squash dough into oiled pans: choose 2 9×13 casserole dishes OR 2 large cast iron skillets for focaccia bread. You can make 2 loaves using bread pans. Or 2 rounded loaves on baking stones. Or lots of little rounds for rolls.
  6. Let rise 10 minutes.
  7. Consider adding toppings like:
    • 1/2 cup shredded cheese
    • 1 Tbsp herbs
    • 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp crunchy, coarse-ground salt
    • Thin-sliced leeks, onions, or mushrooms
  8. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes until golden.

Eat it hot! Or at room temperature. Or cold. Whatever floats your boat.

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