Holy crap, I made bread! It is wonderful, and magical, and delicious, and oddly... easy.
Well, not that easy, but easy enough.
You will need:
- 1 pound hard bread flour
- plus more for dusting
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons yeast (7 grams)
- 13.5 ounces warm water (about 1 1/3 cup, but use your judgement)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Optional: a few cloves of garlic, minced
Note the flour is in weight, not measurements. It's a weird baking thing, and involves me going to the bake shop and buying several bags of carefully measured one-pounds of flour. Hard bread flour, too. For Guelphers/ites, the Flour Barrel on Wyndham downtown is great.
Whisk the flour, yeast, and salt together in a big bowl. Mentally prepare yourself.
Slowly (and i mean slow) drizzle in your water, integrating it with a fork into the mix.
Flour your hands, workspace, and cat. Drop the doughey mess onto the workspace, and knead it (fold and squish, rotate, fold and squish, rotate) for about five minutes.
(at this point, you can fold in the minced garlic. it is delicious)
Clean the bowl, put it in the bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and put in your oven with the light on for an hour to rise. Put a little sticky note on the oven so someone doesn't inadvertently turn it on.
When risen (about double the size), oil up a 11 by 13 pan, and scatter some cornmeal. This will give it a nice crunch. Drop the dough in, watch it sink down, spread it out to fit as best as you can, and put little indents in with chopsticks. Not too deep, but a little bit. Let it rise again for about half an hour with the towel again. I put mine under a radiator this time. Works like a charm.
About now, you want to preheat your oven to 425. This sounds a bit early, but gets your oven (and apartment) nice and hot, but also consistently hot. Oven thermometers are... not your friend.
After rising, ever-so-gently brush it with olive oil. There are lots of air bubbles, and you don't want to disrupt them. Scatter some coarse salt (kosher or sea) over the top, and put in the oven for 25 minutes to an hour.
Take it out, and witness the glory:
oh wait, that was the 'past failure'. those things were basically rocks. try this:
Thanks to paupered chef for saving me from bread-faildom.