You may think that making fresh homemade bread is a hard task, but here’s the truth: it’s not. In fact, it’s really one of the easiest recipes ever! Check out the step-by-step photos and instructions at the bottom of the page below the recipe.
I will be honest, I was always quite timid about making homemade bread :: pane. I thought it was hard and too time consuming so I never tried. Man, have I been missing out all these years! Thankfully my Italian mother-in-law is an incredible cook :: cuoca and was so kind to teach me a few tips to making the perfect homemade bread without a lot of fuss.
Tip #1: Use WARM water to dissolve the yeast :: lievito (around 105°F (40°C))
Tip #2: When dissolving the yeast in the warm water, add a 1/2 tsp of sugar to accelerate :: accelerare the leavening time.
Tip #3: When you allow the bread to rise, keep it in a warm spot and away from drafts :: spifferi. In the summer you can find many warm places but in the winter simply heat your oven to 125°F (50°C) then shut it off and let the bread rise inside.
There is nothing more gratifying ::gratificante than the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through the house. Well, that is besides eating the warm baked bread of course.
I used organic flour :: farina biologica to make this bread and added flax and poppy seeds, which are both high in fiber and have many other health benefits. By making this bread, it came out to be a fraction of the cost of organic bread in the super markets. As you can imagine, homemade bread also tastes much better than industrial store bought kinds. You also have a ton of flexibility and are able to modify your recipe to suit your taste buds.
Making homemade bread is very relaxing :: rilassante. For me, kneading the dough was like a 10 minute meditation session. You become present in the moment as you focus on your palms working the soft round ball and you transfer your warmth and energy into the food that you are preparing to eat. You smell the flour and yeast and are reminded of our ancestors who for centuries carried out this antique tradition. You remember that the simple things in life, can be more pleasurable than any paid activity. You take time out of your busy schedule to create something with love :: amore.
Even if you arrive late from work :: lavoro and have a house full of kids, you can still find time to make homemade bread. In reality, there is only about 20 minutes of work, the rest-rising and cooking-is done on it’s own. I suggest making the dough in the evening. This way it rises and cooks while you read or watch t.v., all the while enjoying the heavenly smell of freshly baked bread. Try this bread as the base for the Best Bruschetta Recipe Ever.
1) Warm two cups water and pour it in a ceramic bowl. Add 1 teaspoon sugar and 2 packets of active dry yeast, stir together until combined; let sit for 10 minutes. When the yeast rises slightly and forms bubbles on top, it is ready.
2) In a ceramic bowl, combine 4 cups organic all purpose flour, 4 1/2 cups organic 7 grain flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup flax seeds and 1/2 cup poppy seeds. Stir until combined.
3) Warm an additional 2 cups of water and set aside. Form a well in the flour and when the yeast is ready, pour it slowly into the flour mixture a little at a time, mixing together with your hands. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil. Continue adding the extra warm water as needed until you have formed dough and it does not stick to your hands. (If you have added too much water simply add more flour until it is the right consistency.)
4) Preheat the oven to 125°F (50°C). (Needed during the winter, if it is summer or the house is warm you can skip this step). Knead the dough for 10 minutes, then shut off the oven. Put the dough back in the ceramic dish, make a cross cross on top with a knife, cover with a damp dish towel and place it in the oven.
5) Let the dough rise for 2 hours, it will double in size so make sure to put the bowl on the lowest rack. Take the dough out of the oven, knead it for 5 minutes and then separate it into two balls. Form each ball into a oblong loaf. Brush a pan or silpat with olive oil then set the loaves on top. Make 4 slices with a sharp knife on top of each loaf and replace them back in the oven for another 30 minutes to rise.
6) After the bread has risen for a second time, remove it from the oven and preheat the oven to 430°F (220°C) then stick the pan inside. After 15 minutes, turn the oven down to 355°F (180°C) and continue to bake for one hour. Remove and cool on a wire rack. Store the loaves of bread in a closed plastic bag in the fridge. They will last up to 5 days. You can also freeze the bread.