1 pack instant bread yeast – machine yeast, etc. works fine if you are using a jar or block of yeast you are measuring out 2 ¼ teaspoon.
2 Cups of water
4 Cups flour – I use King Arthurs Unbleached All Purpose Flour, No affiliate relationship or anything involved in my preference. I was given a yeast culture for a sourdough bread and that culture came from them and prefers the flour. So, with few exceptions, I use their brand when making bread, pretzels, sourdough sponge waffles, pizza dough, etc. It is a good, reliable flour.
¼ to 1 full cup of Roasted Garlic cloves, peeled – they are peeled after they are roasted. (see Roasted Garlic recipe)
Herbs – ½ cup Fresh or dry – divided in half – ¼ cups for in the bread, ¼ cups for topping before cooking.
1 teaspoon of salt – for the dough itself.
Salt for topping – to taste. Salt grinder of your favorite salt – Koskher, volcanic, whatever rocks your world.
Cracked pepper (optional) can be added on top, internally or both. Matter of taste, go light with this until you find your preference.
Spray oil or melted butter
Large mixing bowl
Measuring cups – dry
Measuring Cup – wet
Seasoned cast Iron Pan
Flour mixing whisk or really strong spoon
Cooking or cookie tray (For garlic roasting)
Aluminum foil (For garlic roasting)
Step 1 – Prepping for the yeast.
Yeast, whether you are making beer, wine, or bread, needs two things warmth and darkness. You are going to bring the two cups up to 96 degrees. If you are lazy, which I am, you just microwave it on high for 1 minute 30 seconds in a glass or ceramic container then let it cool until it is just cool enough that you feel warmth, but not hot on your finger tip. If you want to go with a thermometer to measure it, then the temp should be between 85 and 96 degrees. 96 being the upper end. Add the yeast to this, give it a stir and let it rest until it blooms. The bloom in this case will be a brown, grey bubbling that is spreading though the container. It will be about the same color as the dried yeast, there will just be a LOT more to look at. Time from adding the yeast to the warm water (Pitching the yeast) until it is fully blooming is about 5 to 7 minutes with the instant yeast.
Step 2 – Prep the dry ingredients – In a large bowl place the flour and the salt together, stir them dry so the salt is uniformly distributed in the flour.
Step 3 – Add the bloomed yeast water into the dry ingredients, stir until the flour has fully absorbed all the liquids. If the mixture becomes too sticky – adheres to the bowl – add a bit more flour until it pulls away with mixing. Make sure that the bowl is big enough for the mixture to double its size during the first rising, cover with cloth loosely draped over the top or a piece of cling wrap across the top with a gap at one corner to allow the escape of gasses from the rising dough. Rise time at a room temperature of 70 to 74 degrees will be about 1 ½ hours. I use a microwave that hasn’t been recently used – in the last 10 to 15 minutes – as a rising box. Otherwise it can be done in a corner of the counter, take care to isolate if from light and temperature changes.
Step 4 – Roasted Garlic – You can tackle this before making the bread or you can do it during the first rising. Basically this is going to come down to you and how much work you want to do. Want it easy? Buy pre-peeled garlic cloves, put ¼ of cup of them on a large sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle them with olive oil, salt and fresh cracked pepper. Gather the aluminum foil up and twist it close to form a ball, with the garlic, oil, salt and pepper all sitting inside and getting happy. Place the ball on a tray, cook in an oven at 350 for 45 minutes. Remove from oven, let rest, open foil, celebrate.
More technical option, get 4 to 5 bulbs of garlic, cut off tops, place on aluminum foil sheet, add oil, salt and cracked pepper, wrap individually. Place balls on cooking sheet, same temp – 350 – same time – 45 minutes. BUT when they are done you are going to pull out the tray, let it rest and then you are going to have to get the cloves out of the blub. You can do this by clipping away the covering or squeezing the cloves. Basic thing is this, you are going to get garlic all over your fingers and it is likely you will become distracted and find yourself sucking and licking this stuff off of your fingers. This is alright. We did more bulbs of garlic to account for this. If you can manage to harvest ¼ cup of roasted cloves for the bread before the garlic stupor and the urge for a strong glass of red wine kicks in you are good to go.
Step 5 – Just before the bread is done its first drive oil (spray or butter) the inside of the cast iron skillet. Place parchment inside the skillet after you do this. Next, in the bowl in which the bread rose
you add part of your garlic and herbs – I suggest 1/3 of what you are going to put in the bread – and fold it over with a spatula. The dough maybe too sticky after the first rising and need a bit of flour added. Repeat this folding process until all the dry ingredients you want added to your bread (roasted garlic, herbs – fresh or dry, Cracked pepper) are uniformly distributed through the dough. Place the dough in the parchment lined cast iron. Let rise another 1 ½ hours.
Step 6 – After the bread has risen add seasonings of top – dry or fresh herbs, salt, cracked pepper – and either spray with oil or drizzle with butter. Pre-heat oven to 450. When it comes up to temperature place a piece of parchment over the top of the oil/buttered risen dough. Place cast iron in the over. Set timer for 25 minutes. At the end of 25 minutes, take off the covering parchment paper that is resting atop the loaf. Should come off with no problem. Let cook up to another 10 to 15 minutes taking care to get the bread out of the oven once it has turned a warm, yellow brown.
Step 7 – Take the cast iron out of the over – wear the full length baking gloves for this – and set it on the range. Get the loaf of bread out of the cast iron skillet ASAP! This should just lift out by the parchment paper liner. Set the bread on a cooling rack. Note – STAY CLEAR OF THE COOLING CAST IRON! The benefit of cast iron is that even if you have crappy oven – which I do – it achieves a uniform temperature giving your bread a perfect and even cook. The down side is, it will hold heat for a long time after it is removed from the oven, which is why we get the bread out quick and avoid touching the cast iron until it has cooled. If the bread is left in it will continue to cook and can burn on the bottom. Touching the cast iron with unprotected flesh will invite burns as well, for quite some time after the cast iron is out of the oven.
Step 8 – Let bread rest on a cooling rack, plate or marble trivet.
Step 9 – Prepare to fend off family, friends, and strangers from running off with your bread. You are going to be awfully popular.
Final notes, 1) The bread has minimal preservatives – salt being the key one – so its shelf life will be 3 to 4 days tops. 2) If you strip out the herbs and garlic from this recipe you are basically doing a quick rising white bread in a focaccia shape. Which means herbed or not, this will be great dipping bread and can still make a great sandwich bread.
By Author Cusper Lynn
http://www.cusperlynn.com – “Where an author makes an ash of himself”