The Wonder of Bread
April 16, 2010 • Posted by Jennifer Perillo
There’s something so nurturing about making your own bread. The ingredients are simple—flour, salt, yeast and water, yet versatile and open to many flavor combinations to suit your taste. Before I made my first loaf, many years ago, I had been a bit intimidated by the process. How could such humble ingredients come together to form the crunchy, airy loaves I saw lining the local bakery’s windows. Surely it was something only a professional baker could do. I know that undoubtedly now, many dozens of loaves later, that making bread is not only easy—it’s loads of fun.
I feel like a kid again seeing the wonder of a science project, as all the ingredients react during the rising process to form a light, airy dough. I love shaping it too—baguettes, round boules, maybe even making it into fancy looking rolls. My absolute favorite part, though, is making the cuts, called “scoring”—this is where you really get to make your mark. I’m partial to an “X” on round loaves, as in this simple boule recipe below, but you can also make vertical slashes in it too. Whatever shape and scores you decide, this bread is perfect for everything from making panini, serving toasted then rubbed with garlic and drizzled with extra virgin oil or just eating a slice as-is.
Parmesan & Scallion Boule
makes 1 loaf
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup sliced scallions
3 cups flour
1 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
- Heat 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in a small skillet. Add the scallions and saute until fragrant and slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Add 2 cups of flour, cheese, salt and yeast to the bowl of your Cuisinart Stand Mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix to combine. Add the cooled scallions, warm water and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix on low speed to combine. Remove paddle attachment and fit with the dough hook. Gradually add an additional 1/2 cup of flour, mixing on low speed until it begins to form a soft dough (it will still be slightly sticky, and that's okay).
- Sprinkle remaining flour onto a clean counter. Dump dough onto the surface and knead in as much of the remaining flour as necessary to form a smooth ball. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place until doubled in volume.
- Once dough has doubled, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and punch down. Knead 1 minute, then shape into a round loaf called a boule. Brush top of loaf with remaining 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Cut a 1/4-inch deep "X" into the top of the loaf using a sharp knife. Cover with a slightly damp clean kitchen towel and let rest until the boule has doubled in size.
- While the dough is resting, place the oven rack into the center position. Place a pizza stone on the rack and preheat oven to 550ºF. When loaf has doubled in size, reduce oven to 450ºF, and, using a pizza peel, or the back of a sheet pan lined with lightly floured parchment, slide the loaf onto the stone. Bake for 25 to 27 minutes, until very nicely browned and hollow sounding when tapped. Remove bread from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about an hour before slicing.