Guest post by Christine
Bread making experts can tell you all about making bread… The do’s, the don’ts and all the chemistry and nutrition factors involved. But let’s face it – some days you just want/need to learn a new skill that is quick, easy, inexpensive and satisfying to the mouth, the soul and the pocketbook.
Cast Iron Bread Making is one such skill. …and what is really great is that it is a skill that can and should be practiced and enjoyed now.
Here’s what I like about my recipe:
- It’s easy
- It tastes good
- It’s flexible
- It requires no kneading
- It’s cheap to make
- It saves on yeast (good if you are limited in how much you have or while you wait for a sourdough culture to form)
- The finished product adds nutrition, diversity and fiber to a diet
- Good homemade bread is a great barter item
The “Down and Dirty” Recipe:
Grind 3 cups of wheat and then grind it again until it is very fine.
Put the finely ground wheat into a small plastic food grade bucket with a lid and add 1 tsp. of yeast and 1 ½ tsp. of salt. Mix up these three ingredients well and then add 1 1/3 cups of water (or whey if you make cheese and have a dairy goat/cow) combined with 2 Tbs. of honey, maple syrup, molasses or sorghum. Stir up the mixture until you have a wet mess of sticky dough and then cover it and let it sit for 18-24 hours.
When you open the bucket you will see that the dough has risen and appears a bit frothy. Scrape it out onto a floured counter and quickly shape it into a round ball by tucking the ends under it – add just enough flour to maintain its shape. Place the dough ball on a floured cloth towel and cover the ball completely with the towel. I flour the towel with coarse ground wheat as we like a dark, coarse, chewy crust.
Stick the towel covered dough in a glass bowl and let the bread rise again for 4 hours (or more based on room temperature). Turn your oven (or gas grill) on and set it at 450 degrees. (You can also dig a hole and build a charcoal/wood fire nearby and place coals below the pot and on top of the lid – this takes more skill and practice but is doable.) Place your seasoned cast iron pot with lid in the oven and let the oven and pan heat up for a half hour.
After the half hour is up, carefully remove pan from the oven and quickly place the dough ball in the pan. Cover it quickly with the heated lid and then put it back in the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes remove the lid and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the bread sit until cool.
That’s it. You can adjust the recipe by adding more sweetener, dried fruits, spices, different kinds of flour, seeds, nuts, herbs, cheese, etc. Bread is a staple that can be used in many meals and adds food diversity and calories. It is filling and in times of stress acts as comfort food for many of us. Make a sandwich, a bread bowl for soup/beans, a pizza, croutons, a meat pocket, etc.
If you like a softer crust to your bread, as soon as you pull the loaf out rub some butter/grease on the crust. This is also a preservative.
If you don’t like 100% whole wheat bread use half whole wheat/ half white bread flour. I use the same proportions (half-n-half) for rye bread.
I also use a regular loaf pan for the second rise with the pan lined with baking paper for normal looking loaf. I sometimes put the dough in a small round baking dish that is lined because I don’t particularly like a flattish loaf. These loaves are baked at 450 without baking stones or enclosed baking vessels. I can get a good loaf of bread without these items.
Let your loaf raise as long as it needs to for the second raise because mine always takes waaayyy longer than they say it does.
Last point, I now weight my flour, as I get more consistent results than measuring by the cup. 17 ounces of flours, 12 ounces of UN-CHLORINATED water, 1 1/2 tsp salt, and you can use as little as 1/4 tsp of yeast. When using whole wheat or whole rye I use more yeast and about 2 tbsp of some kind of sweetener.
my recipe is simple too. heat a woodstove or bed of coals (for dutch oven) or a range oven at 350. either grease the dutch oven or a baking pan (depending on what heat source is used). in a big mixing bowl mix quickly 4 cups of flour, 3 or 4 spoons of baking powder, 1 dry cup of powdered milk and any extras (ginger and molasses for gingerbread, sugar, sometimes I add mashed pumpkin or apple sauce) then add enough water to make it a thick batter. pour it into the oven or pans about half the depth of the container. put the oven on the stove or coals, or pans in the oven. bake until a toothpick comes out clean.
the powdered milk, baking powder and flour can be stored in bulk dry and the only other ingredient needed is the water. just the 4 ingredients make a basic wheat soda bread that is good with jam. add other things for variety.
You could also try these: How to cook simple ashcakes or firecakes
Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.