I’ve mentioned before that I lack skills for baking bread. I can come up with creative ideas and I can knead and shape dough like nobody’s business, but when it comes to pulling a light, fluffy, crusty loaf out of the oven I fail just about every time.
However, something is telling me that my luck may improve in 2011.
Way back in August, I went to the Woodland Art Festival. A fantastic event, by the way, if you happen to be in the area when it is hosted. There were booths full of handmade pottery and I’m quickly learning that this may be my new thing. I find pottery so interesting – both how it is made and the gorgeous end products.
About halfway through my browsing I found these bread baking bowls from Neal Pottery out of Lebanon, OH. I simply could not pass them up so I bought one for myself and one for my mom which we just gave to her for Christmas.
There are two reasons that this piece of functional art is so outstanding. It is super easy to use when making bread and it makes a small amount. Just about right for 2 to 3 people.
Mine has been sitting in the cabinet all autumn, but my mom was on the ball as soon as she received hers. She also happens to be an expert baker, if I haven’t mentioned it before, so it was no surprise that her loaf turned out great.
I wasn’t convinced that I would have success, but I thought it was about time I attempted. Since we had pasta for NYE, I decided to bake a loaf to serve with our olive oil and herb dipping sauce.
The baking bowl came with 8 recipes, some more complicated than others. I decided to take the recipe that was originally for Greek olive bread and omit the added ingredients. So basically, I wanted to make a loaf of unbleached white bread. I also added a little bit of sugar, because I have a hard time grasping bread recipes without sugar to feed the yeast and have little success with them.
The steps are so simple. Mix the bread dough, knead the dough by hand for a few minutes, place it back in the oiled mixing bowl, rise for an hour. Punch down, knead again for a few minutes, place in the oiled bread baking bowl, let rise to double.
Bake for 45 minutes and viola! It turned out perfectly! It was a really unexpected surprise given my history with bread.
Basic White Bread in a Bread Baking Bowl
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour, plus extra for kneading
1 1/2 tsp olive oil, plus extra for the bowl
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 pkg dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 tsp mascavo sugar
In a small bowl combine the yeast, water and sugar. Let sit a few minutes until it blooms. In a bowl, mix the flour, olive oil and salt. Add the water with the yeast and mix until dough is formed. Add a more water by the tsp if it is too dry. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, about 2 or 3 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a clean dish towel and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Place the dough on a floured surface, punch down and knead for about 2 to 3 more minutes. Roll into a ball. Lightly oil the baking bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Cover with a dish towel and let rise until doubled in size again.
Place the bread and baking bowl in a cold oven, set the temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for about 45 minutes. Mine was perfect right when the timer went off.