I love - like, LOVE LOVE. And when I found this amazing bread recipe, I knew I had to try it. Baking bread reminds me of childhood, when I stood at the table and watched my mom knead bread. Plus, it makes your house smell amazing and it's good to eat! Never one to do things the easy way, I decided to make heart-shaped loaves. Miracle of miracles, it worked on the first try! I made the dough 3 days ahead of time because that's how crazy life is right now - but that's one of the great things about this recipe - it keeps in the fridge for up to 2 weeks!
3 cups warm water
1 1/2 Tablespoons yeast (I used bread machine yeast because that's what I had - worked great!)1 1/2 Tablespoons coarse salt (I used kosher)
6 to 6 1/2 cups of flour (I used bread flour and used a bit more than 6 1/2)
Mix all together - it will be sticky. Let rise in a lightly covered bowl/container for 2 hours. Store in refrigerator in tightly covered bowl/container for up to 2 weeks.
When you're ready to bake, the first thing you're going to need is a design assistant turned sous chef to ensure you have adequate flour coverage. Turn your dough out onto the (lightly - heavily - really doesn't matter!) floured surface and let rest for 30 minutes. Our dough did not get much rest - it is too hard to explain to a child what the "first rise" is - the final product seemed none the worse for wear.
After the dough has been out of the fridge for 30 minutes (resting or not), knead a bit of flour in until it's not so sticky, then shape it as desired. I took two fistfuls of dough and made each one into a teardrop. This will yield a loaf that is just the right size for 2 people to share over dinner.I gave a fistful of dough to my sous chef and she liberally kneaded it, piled flour on top of it, kneaded it again, poured more flour on . . . you get the idea. Amazingly, her rolls were just as delicious as the rest - I LOVE this recipe!
Back to the heart-shaped version...take those two teardrops and mush the tips together. Place finished loaves on a pan coated with cornmeal (or on parchment paper). Let rise again for 30 minutes in a warmish area, lightly covered. I placed them on top of the oven while I let it preheat to 450 with a pan of water in it (the water makes the bread more delicious - and chewy!).
As you can see, the sous chef's loaves are a little heavy on the flour - but I promise, still wonderful to eat!
We coated our loaves in an egg wash before baking - this makes the crust a little yummier (& crust is my favorite part)! Take 1 egg and separate, keeping the white. Add about 1 tablespoon of water to the white and whisk. Then lightly brush across top of each loaf. You can also decorate the top by cutting a design into it.
Bake 20-30 minutes (the small ones took took 20 minutes, the hearts about 25). Let cool on a wire rack until cool to touch.
I wrapped these up and gave them to our neighbors with a little note that said,
"We (heart) being your neighbors!"
Fortunately, we had all our sous chef's little loaves to eat for ourselves - and they were mighty good. We made bread again today - a car, a flower, a butterfly . . . but we ate them too fast for me to get pictures! We still have about 1/3 of the dough left - so I think I'll make a few loaves to take into work . . . see, best recipe EVAH!
This is a sneak peek of tomorrow's fun project . . .
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