I’m going to start with my most recent obsession: homemade bread. You might have noticed it is the front page of my blog, so it’s no surprise it’s my specialty. It’s fucking amazing, and super simple.
You don’t have to have cast iron, I just love mine so much and I’m a fan of no-knead recipes that are pretty common in cast iron. You can also customize the recipes like BONKERS, which is great for me because I am not a huge recipe follower anyway – in fact the first time I made the recipe i’m going to post here I adapted it from another I found online and it came out PERFECT. It’s literally that easy folks. You can make this tonight and be guaranteed a great soup bread, or dinner bread to make everyone’s mouths’ water.
I’m not going to be like most blogs that make you dig for the recipe, I’m going to put it right here up top, but I’m going to post some pictures from my very first bread loaf as well as a little bit of tips and tricks I’ve discovered below so please read on!
Basic Bread Recipe
- 1 package (or 2 and 1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast
- 2 cups warm water
- 1/2 tbsp. kosher salt
- 4 and 1/3 cups all purpose flour
- olive oil
- Mix yeast and warm water in a large bowl.
- Using a large spoon stir in the salt and 1 cup of the flour until combined.
- One cup at a time, stir in the rest of the flour until fully mixed together.
- Cover lightly with a towel in a warm place for 1 hour.
- Once the dough has risen, sprinkle flour on top and cover hands with flour.** Take dough and press into a disc in the skillet.
- Cover loosely with a towel and let rise another 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400F degrees.
- Drizzle olive oil over the top of the risen dough and use a knife to slash an X into the dough. Sprinkle with coarse/sea salt and rosemary (fresh is preferred, I used dried).
- Bake 35-40 minutes, until the top is a deep golden brown.
- Cool, cut, serve! (If desired mix up some roasted garlic butter–which I described in the ingredients list–and spread it on the bread.)
* Here is where you get to customize! Add cheese (feta is amazing, as is Parmesan). Add seasonings that you love, dill, is a favorite of mine.
** I advise being slightly careful with this bit. I have, on several occasions added too much flour at his stage and then had to dust it off later on. If you have a basting brush I would suggest using this to carefully making sure it’s evenly and LIGHTLY coated.
Cast Iron Bespelled
It truly was through my first set of cast iron that I became obsessed with bread making. I got a Lodge set of three for a very reasonable price online when I moved into my own apartment and my grandmother gave me a little magazine that had a TON of great cast iron basics. I was in love.
I fell in love with the old-world charm of cast iron and how you had to put love into them, how they carried all the meals with them as you cooked with them. How much care you had to put into them but at the same time how much easier they cooked than other pans in some ways – they were my grill since I lived on a second floor apartment, and a fantastic work out tool. Heavy as fuck.
My grandmother was a bread guru, so I vaguely recalled the basics but doing them via cast iron was completely new, so I relearned the science, but I was emboldened by the passage in my magazine that said – water, yeast, salt and flour, the rest is just creativity. I embarked upon my first bread loaf one chilly Saturday morning with a variation of the recipe above and my cast iron at my side.
I use a whisk for the first bit of mixing, when combining the yeast, water and salt, this isn’t just to get it all foamy, but also to make sure you don’t get salt pockets. super important. Had one of those in the first loaves. Ewwww.
I had some extra sharp white cheddar cheese left over from another recipe I will eventually put up here when I have proper pictures. Then I added dill because it’s one of my favorite favorite herbs. I grew some once – but because I cannot keep plants alive very well (at all) that went very poorly.
I switch to a spoon when I start adding in the flour. Wooden because I’m old fashion like that – you may notice I don’t have a standing mixer which would also be an option. I do all my stuff by hand. That’s both a personal choice, and an economically demanded one. Even when my mom had a standing mixer I disliked using it – dry ingredients fell to the bottom, pain in the ass – I like the power of doing it by hand properly, plus it’s great for your arms, and my arms need the work out. But yeah, there are some times, for non-baking recipes, I would love a standing mixer, but I’m WAY too fucking poor for one of those. Ha.
So I let my dough rise the required time, hopping it up on top of my refrigerator because that was where my grandmother kept it.
Yep there’s my skinny pop – because I’m classy.
Oh and I use a towel over my bowl, a lot of recipes will call for saran wrap – never made a difference. I promise. If you don’t have any don’t freak out. Don’t do it. Deep calming breaths.
So you chill for an hour, or do laundry in my case. You go back you to your dough, you put it into the skillet and let it rise again. This part also calls for you to flour it a bit more, I put a note above but I’ll say it again, be careful here.
Also, some recipes will say to oil or butter your cast iron. DO NOT DO THIS. If you have properly seasoned your skillet (if it’s nice and shiny black) ie properly cared for, the bread will pop right out when it’s done. If you butter, or oil the cast iron it will burn off in the oven and give the bottom of the bread a burnt taste. I actually learned this from that little magazine my grandmother gave me.
To be honest, after that you just put it in the oven for the required time and let it be.
And Bam! Fucking awesome bread, which can be used for anything. Though I prefer to dip in soups, personally. I hope you can enjoy sometime soon!
May all your kitchens be full and your inkwells run my friends!