Just Relax Bread

Sliced on cutting board
Sliced on cutting board
“Baking bread is easy.  I can do that!”  That’s what I want you to think after you’ve read this post.  And then I want you to give it a go.  Yes, I, a Weight Watchers lifetime member eats bread.  I find the taste and texture of homemade bread far superior to anything I buy at the grocery store.  It is satisfying and wholesome and delicious.  And it is one of those things that I refuse to give up “on program”.
What is bread?  When you get right down to it, it is just flour and water mixed together and baked in some fashion.  Most bread that you and I eat, however, also has some salt, yeast and sometimes sugar and/or oil.  You already know what the yeast does.  The salt, sugar and oil?  They affect the taste and texture.
For a while, I was using this recipe for a crusty loaf of bread that went well with soup or stew.  My problem with it was time.  I needed to know YESTERDAY that I want the bread today.  One day, I wanted bread for that night’s dinner.  I found this recipe.  I am sure that if you follow the recipe to the letter, you will get a beautiful loaf of bread.  As luck would have it, though, I screwed up the recipe.  I added too much water to the dough and it turned into a rather shaggy looking dough.  This did not deter me because in the first recipe I mentioned above, you WANTED a shaggy looking dough.  End result?  THE BEST BREAD I HAVE EVEN BAKED AND EATEN.  🙂

Do you want to go directly to my recipe?  Click here.

This recipe requires a few basic supplies.  They are

  • a bowl,
  • a fork,
  • measuring spoons/cups,
  • a soup ladle,
  • parchment paper,
  • a tea towel,
  • a Dutch oven  (Don’t have a Dutch oven?  You can use the crock from a slow cooker plus a disposable lasagna pan.)
  • baking sheet (optional — this makes clean up easier. If you prefer, use your counter top)
I call this bread Just Relax Bread because I often need to remind myself to relax when handling this dough.  It does not behave like most bread doughs.  It seems like it is a lost cause.  But, I simply remind myself to “just relax” and it has always turned out great.

I hope you will try this recipe and then let me know how it turned out for you.  If you have any questions, please ask.  I am happy to help!

 

Ingredients
Ingredients

INGREDIENTS

14 oz. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. table salt
2 tsp white sugar
2 tsp dry active yeast
1-3/4 cup lukewarm water (80° ≤ 110° F)
1 Tbsp olive oil

 

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to “warm” (anywhere between 170° – 200° F). Once oven reaches desired temperature, turn it OFF.

While oven is preheating, proof your yeast. Dissolve sugar into some or all the water. Then gently stir in the yeast. After about 10 minutes, you can use the yeasty water. If you only used some water to proof your yeast, add more water to measure up to 1-3/4 cup.

Foamy yeast water
Foamy yeast water

In your oven safe bowl, combine the flour and salt with your fork. Slowly, start to add the yeast-sugar water. I like to use a soup ladle because it measures about 1/2 cup. Add some water, mix with fork. Repeat until all the dough is moist. You may or may not use all the water.

Moistened dough & measuring cup
Moistened dough & measuring cup

 

Place a piece of parchment paper over your bowl.

Dampen your tea towel and drape it over the parchment paper. Move your dough bowl into it’s warm and cozy “room” (a.k.a. the oven which is now warm and turned OFF)

After about an hour, your dough is ready to use.

Dough sticking to tea towel :'( Just Relax
Dough sticking to tea towel 😥
Just Relax

Take the dough bowl out of the oven. Preheat your oven to 425° F.  Then place your dutch oven, with lid, into the oven and let it heat for 30 minutes.

With well floured hands and a small bowl of flour at the ready, take the dough (or just pour it) out of the bowl onto a well floured baking sheet.  I use a baking sheet for this step because it makes clean up MUCH EASIER.  If you prefer, use your counter top.  Either way, make sure it is heavily floured.

Floured baking sheet
Floured baking sheet

Gently reshape the dough into a ball. Heavily flour the dough and re-cover it with parchment paper and/or tea towel. Let it rest and rise while your pot is heating up.

Dough with flour on top
Dough with flour on top

After 30 minutes, with oven-mitted hands, remove pot from oven and take off the lid. Coat the inside bottom of pot with 1 Tbsp olive oil.

Oiled pot
Oiled pot

When you remove the tea towel, you’ll notice your dough has risen again.  Yay!

Rested and risen dough
Rested and risen dough

 

With well-floured hands, transfer the dough from the baking sheet (or your counter) to the hot, oiled pot.  This is the tricky part.  The dough will be very loose.  It’ll have the consistency of jelly in a plastic bag.  The dough may stick to your hands and/or the surface on which it’s been resting.  Just Relax and tuck whatever you need to tuck to handle the dough enough to bring it to the pot.  Carefully place dough into hot oiled pot.

Dough in pot
Dough in pot

Replace the lid and bake for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes in oven Isn't she a beauty?
After 30 minutes in oven
Isn’t she a beauty?

 

Remove the lid and bake for another 5-10 minutes to brown it up a bit more.

Done baking (This was just 5 minutes)
Done baking
(This was just 5 minutes)

Remove pot from oven and tip the bread out of the pot. PLEASE BE CAREFUL!  Place on a cooling rack. It will be easier to slice, the cooler it is.

Sliced on cutting board
Sliced on cutting board

Enjoy!

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Slow Cooker Chili & Skillet Cornbread

Hello Friend!  Do you have a slow cooker?  Are you a fan of your slow cooker?  If you aren’t yet a fan of your slow cooker, here’s one recipe that may persuade you to pull out that old beast.

This recipe, like all of my recipes, is a variation on a recipe I found either online or in a cookbook or passed on from a friend.  The original recipe is quite good as is, but I think you will like my variation just as much, if not more.  There are a few things I like about this recipe.

  1. It’s easy!  Mostly you’re just dumping a bunch of cans of beans into your slow cooker.
  2. It makes a lot!  I always get two nights worth of dinners for my family of four plus two or three lunch servings.
  3. It’s low on Weight Watchers PointsPlus program.  Only 4 points for a one cup serving! (It’s herbs, spices and power foods!)

Follow this link to my recipe.

Laura’s Slow Cooker Chili

 

Skillet Cornbread

Now when your main dish has a PointsPlus value of only 4, why not have some cornbread with it?  Follow this link to a quick, easy and tasty cornbread recipe I found on allrecipes.com.  I like to call my cornbread Skillet Cornbread (thanks Fiona!) because my variation on the recipe is to bake it in my cast iron skillet.  Each of the 12 servings this recipe yields have a PointsPlus value of 5.