I decided to make bread myself tonight. Here is what I did.
I decided that my previous bread trials were not satisfactory. I could not really decide what factor was making the bread less than acceptable for me, so I decided to start from scratch. As a scientist, I failed. I changed every variable at the same time. Oh well, the bread turned out great.
2.5+ c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1.25 cups water, ~100ºF (lukewarm)
1 tsp sugar
1 tbs sea salt
1/4 c olive oil
2 sprigs rosemary, chopped fine
Take the water and add the yeast and mix them in after a minute of floating on the surface. After about 5 minutes, add the sugar, and stir to dissolve.
Add 1 cup of flour. Stir to mix. After one cup of flour is mixed, add the olive oil, salt and rosemary. I add these ingredients after a flour addition in order to keep the flour from being coated in fat. I want the flour/water to blend with the fat; I don't want little flour globs that are armored with oil in a sea of water.
After all of the flavorants are added, keep adding flour until a moderately wet dough is formed. I added about 3 c. of flour.
Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes.
A part of the new bread direction came from this website: http://www.rusticocooking.com/bread101.htm Despite being somewhat commercial in nature, it gave a good overview of the theory of breadmaking.
Whenever I try to teach someone chemistry, it is much more important they they understand the theory than they do the law. What I mean is - it benefits you more to understand why something is happening than to see a list of consequences.
Therefore, I was very happy to stumble upon this website. It gave me a lot of useful information on why each step of breadmaking is done. Now, in the future, I can use this info to my advantage.
The kneaded dough was then put into a greased bowl for 1 hour to rise. After 1 hour and 20 minutes, the dough was turned out onto a floured board but not punched down. The dough was cut into two pieces; one was shaped into a baguette and one into a round. They were were then placed on a cornmeal-dusted board to go through a second rise for 30 more minutes.
They breads were then transferred onto a pizza stone in a preheated 425ºF oven and allowed to bake for 30 minutes. In the first 10 minutes of baking, I used a spray bottle to shower the oven with water (about 4 spritzes, 3 times in the first 10 minutes) with water. This kept the crust from forming until later in the process.
After 30 minutes, the two breads came out and cooled. It was an exciting experience to try them - I had no expectations but Antonia and I were both very pleasantly surprised.
I have caught the bread bug and imagine that the next week or two (before midterms) will be filled with breadmaking. One website I found calculated that a loaf of bread make at home costs about $1.20. I think that that is much better than $2.49+ for a loaf at the Nugget.