Quick, think of five baking aromas that bring you running to the kitchen to see what’s up. (And no, you can’t count “fruit pie filling burning on the oven floor” as one of them. We’re being positive here.)
•Brownies, in the minute before they come out of the oven;
•Cinnamon anything; apple pie and oatmeal cookies in particular;
•Yeast bread. Any kind. Ciabatta, sticky buns, raisin-pecan rye… Anything made with yeast.
Note that three of my five favorite baking scents involve yeast. Not surprising; enjoying the aroma of fresh-baked bread is probably programmed into our genes, just like our attraction to sugar. (Did you know studies have shown that putting a bit of sugar on an infant’s tongue will create “happy brain waves”? Gee, bet the same thing happens to me when I take a bite of chocolate cake.)
Bread is, after all, one of the first prepared foods known to human civilization. Once our nomadic hunter/gatherer progenitors settled down and began to farm, about 12,000 years ago, wheat was one of their first crops. And bread one of their first creations. Think of those humble beginnings, those first rudimentary, unleavened flatbreads. Now, thousands of years and zillions of loaves later, we’ve created… Wonder Bread.
And sandwich rye. Baguettes and Pan Cubano, whole wheat pain de mie and bagels, and yes, good ol’ Wonder Bread-style white sandwich bread. Check out our Web site: we offer hundreds of yeast bread recipes. We’ve found that yeast bread bakers are our most passionate, engaged readers. Heck, even the posts on this blog elicit many more comments when the subject is yeast bread, compared to anything else (though chocolate runs a close second).
If you’ve never baked yeast bread, here’s a “gimme”—a recipe so simple, you’ll wonder why you thought yeast bread was challenging. Blitz Bread goes from inspiration to on-the-table in under 2 hours. It requires no kneading. And it’ll bring everyone running to the kitchen as it bakes. So, what are you waiting for? Take the yeast bread plunge!
WOW, look at all that yeast! If you've baked bread before, you'll realize that a tablespoon of yeast is more than you'd usually use. But we're after speed here; and the more yeast you start with, the faster your bread will rise.
Beat everything together for 60 seconds at high speed in your electric mixer. Can you do this in a bread machine? Sure. Set it on the dough cycle and let it mix for probably 5 to 10 minutes, till the dough looks like this. Can you do it in a food processor? I haven't, but I'm betting you could. Use the plastic dough blade, if you have one, and process till it looks like this. Can you do it by hand? Absolutely—if you've got really strong arms and lots of energy! (Hey, there's a reason they call appliances "modern conveniences.")
Let the dough rise, covered, for 60 minutes. Using your index finger, make dimples in the dough. Sprinkle with pizza seasoning, Italian herbs, or your favorite combination of savories—rosemary and black pepper, oregano and thyme...
Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 375°F.
Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes, until it's golden brown. Turn it out of the pan onto a rack; if you've greased your pan well, it should flop right out onto the rack. If you leave the bread in the pan as it cools, the bottom crust will become unpleasantly soggy.
You might have noticed I made feta focaccia in the post just previous to this one. I bought a big block of it at our local club store, so I've been putting it into everything lately. And I've found feta is particularly good for baking, as it doesn't melt, but just softens nicely. So there.
Read, review, and rate (please!) our recipe for Blitz Bread.
Buy vs. Bake
Buy: Supermarket Rosemary Focaccia, 36¢/ounce
Bake at home: Blitz Bread, including optional Pizza Dough Flavor and cheese powder, 10¢/ounce. Without optional ingredients, 7¢/ounce.