Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sun-dried Tomato Bread

Mmm... freshly baked bread. Is there anything better? I've always been a little intimidated by the idea of bread, because so much can go wrong. If you don't know what the dough is suppose to feel like it's really easy to screw it up. Luckily I had my mom there on standby in case anything happened.

It was really a great experience making bread. I think I've started to take for granted the luxury of having a mixer and it isn't until you have to knead dough for ten minutes that you really get a feel for what people had to go through before any of the luxuries like mixers etc. were invented.

For once I wasn't craving something sweet and chocolatey. Instead I really wanted something savoury. I opted for a Sun-dried Tomatoe Bread and it turned out great. The recipe was definitely for a neophyte like me. There weren't a lot of steps involved and it only had a few ingredients, which was perfect. Anytime I try a new area of baking, like bread, I find comfort in choosing a simple recipe to, at the very least, boost my confidence level.

Sun-dried Tomato Bread

3 1/4 cups bread flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. rapid-rise dried yeast
2 oz (drained weight) sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
3/4 cup lukewarm water
5 tbsp lukewarm olive oil, plus extra for brushing
plain flour for dusting

1. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.

2. Stir in the yeast and sun-dried tomatoes.

3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in the water and oil, and mix until the ingredients come together and form a soft dough.

4. Turn the dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes.

5. Shape into an oval loaf, without making the top too smooth, and place on a greased baking sheet. Brush the top with olive oil, cover with plastic wrap, then let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour.

6. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425'F. Remove the plastic wrap, then sprinkle the top of the loaf with flour.

7. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

As a bit of a side note, I've decided that, for other neophytes like me, I'm going to implement a ranking system based on the recipe and how, as a neophyte baker/cook, I found the recipe. A lot of times recipes will have a prep time based on how long it took the experienced baker to make it. My system is going to tell you how long it took me to make it, hopefully giving other amateurs a realistic estimate of the time they need. Hurrah?

I'm also going to bring about a ranking system, in the spirit of Kitchen Karate. I'll rank each recipe with a belt colour. White means really easy, yellow is a bit harder but still easy, and so on and so on through orange, green, blue, brown, and finally black.

I'm hoping to make some nice fancy pictures for the belt system instead of using the word, but I don't have those ready yet, so bare with me.

Neophyte Ranking:
No prep time was provided
Personal prep time: 30 minutes

Belt Rank (in terms of difficulty):

Because I've come to notice that bread can be tricky. It's all about consistency and texture. The dough can't be too dry or too wet.

Now, I'm off to bake something wonderfully delicious and chocolatey. Want a hint?
If I ever had a Child, I'd probably name her Julia.

Happy cooking!



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