Juniper Hills Farm Hearth Bread

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What better time than now to bake some bread at home!  It’s a satisfying and rewarding task.  The bread is so much better than store bought and it’s such a comforting thing to do.  This bread mixes up in just a few minutes, rises once for about an hour in a bowl then a second time for about 45 minutes in its baking container. This bread stores really well in the refrigerator or freezer wrapped in plastic, or on your counter in a paper bag, if it lasts that long!

Juniper Hills Farm Hearth Bread

makes one large round loaf or two smaller loaves

3 1/3 cups bread flour (1 pound) All Purpose Flour is fine as well, it will just make a less hearty crumb

1/4 cup wheat flour

1  1/2 teaspoons salt

1  1/4 teaspoons yeast

1  1/3 cups room temp water (80°)

1 tablespoon honey

2 cup sour dough starter*  optional

 

Mix flours, salt and yeast in a medium sized bowl. In a glass measure, blend water and honey.  Stir into the dry ingredients.  I find a rubber spatula best for this task.  Your dough will be rough and shaggy.  Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface.  Knead until smooth and springy but still slightly sticky, about 3-4 minutes.   Lightly brush or spray oil inside of a slightly larger bowl. Place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat on all sides.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size.  Press dough lightly with two fingers. Dough is ready if a gentle indention remains.

  Lightly grease an iron skillet or any heavy, oven proof dish, such as an enamel or le cruset type bakeware. I also like to bake my loaves on a pizza stone that I preheat in the oven.  If baking on a stone, place loaf (s) on a square of parchment paper on a pizza or bread peel or on a upside down sheet pan. Dust the paper with a bit of cornmeal or flour.  Then you can use the paper to slide the loaf off onto the hot stone in the oven.  The paper goes with it! 

Gently deflate dough. Using a sharp knife or bench cutter, divide in half if making two smaller loaves.   Shape dough into a round ball or balls.  Place in or on your baking pan or choice.  Cover bread lightly with oiled plastic wrap and let rise in warm place about 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

15-20 minutes before your rising time is finished, preheat oven to 425º. I also like to put a kettle on to boil and place a empty shallow pan in the bottom of my oven so that I can add the boiling water as I’m putting the loaves into the oven to create a steamy environment.  

    Carefully cut X shaped slash on top of dough; spray lightly with cool water. If using boiling water, pour that water in the pan and then place your loaf or loaves in oven and bake 30 minutes or until golden brown or until skewer inserted in center comes out clean. (test for 190º-200º) During baking time, rotate loaf 360° for an even bake. Let bread cool on a wire rack before cutting. 

Here’s a recipe you might want right about now. Herb Butter–also great to keep on hand for sautéing  vegetables or scrambling eggs in.  I have a recipe for Herb Infused Oil that will be coming up next, also great with fresh baked bread.  Enjoy, your family will be very happy!

 

Herb Butter

1 stick butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

3 tablespoons fresh herbs, minced

Mix butter, salt and herbs.  Use at room temperature.

*Sour Dough Starter

SO, if you want to add some twang to this loaf, mix up this starter several days ahead of time.  You can store it in your fridge once you’ve scooped some out for the bread and keep adding to it and using it as you like.  This bread is totally wonderful without and I don’t always use the starter addition.

2 cup All Purpose flour

1 ½ cups room temperature water

2 tablespoons plain yogurt

½ teaspoon malted milk powder

Combine all ingredients in a mixer and blend on low for about 3 minutes.  Pour into a glass or ceramic container and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a cloth.  Let the starter sit at room temperature for several days before using, stirring once a day.  Each time you use your starter, take it out a day ahead, let it come to room temperature and stir it up.  When you use some you’ll want to feed it and replace what you’ve used.  You can just cut the recipe above in half if you like, stir it up and mix it with the original.  My starter origin is 12 years old now so it’s got some twang on it.  Next time you are in the Kitchen with me, ask and I’ll share a bit to add to yours or start your own.