LIMA — For many people, baking is a form of stress relief.
As the stay-at-home orders continue, more are turning to new hobbies to keep themselves busy or distracted from the news — including baking. Adding in the practicality of trying to avoid heading out to the grocery store, many of those are trying their hand at making bread.
“I love to cook. During this quarantine, I’ve been enjoying the extra time to try new recipes — things I’ve never tried or had time for before,” said Kathleen Phipps, of Elida. “I have always had this ceramic dish and never used it much and realized it is perfect for bread. I used a recipe for Dutch oven bread and picked up instant yeast at the Olde Thyme Pantry. This is my first loaf, and we were pleased with how it turned out — four of us ate it all.”
Mary Jo Bockrath, of Ottawa, has been baking for years as well but has used this time to try her hand at some new recipes. Her favorite (and her family’s favorite) so far has been a no-knead everything bread.
“I think (baking) is just satisfying,” Bockrath said as to why she thinks more people have taken up the hobby at this time. “With the way the world feels right now, it feels good to make something on your own, to know you can do it and do it successfully, it makes you happy.”
Laura Ulrick, of Shawnee Township, has been baking for more than 15 years and has a Facebook group with her friends and fellow cooks and bakers to swap recipes and share tips.
Her favorite tip? Using a large warmed stockpot to place over your bread to cut rise time in half. She suggests placing the empty pot in an oven set at 300 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes.
“I have absolutely no patience,” she joked. “When you’re rising bread, put that pot upside down over the bread and cut the time in half. It’s not hot enough to bake, but warm enough to help it rise.”
Ulrick said she came across the hack almost by accident after getting the idea of using heat from one of her Facebook group members.
“I have a habit of leaving pots in the oven, and I just thought, ‘I wonder,” she said.
One of the biggest tricks to a successful bread, however, comes down to the yeast. Both Ulrick and Bockrath emphasized the importance of using fresh yeast and giving it the time it needs to proof.
Ulrick said Pinterest is her guilty pleasure for finding new recipes, but nothing beats those that are tried and true.
“I have a lot of cookbooks — probably anywhere from 50 to 80 years old. Some of them were my grandma’s,” she said. “Better Homes and Gardens from the 1960s are the best because it tastes just like walking into my grandma’s kitchen.”
Below are reader-submitted recipes as simple as soda bread and as complex as a sourdough with a homemade starter. Whether you are looking to make your first loaf or for new recipes to try and add to an already established collection, save these recipes below for a rainy quarantine day.
Cheaters No-Knead Sourdough Bread
— From Mary Jo Bockrath, of Ottawa
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon honey
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
Combine water, yeast, honey, flour, salt and yogurt in bowl. Mix until flour is completely incorporated. Cover bowl with wet towel or plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature two hours or until dough doubles in size.
For stronger sourdough flavor, punch dough, re-cover the bowl and let sit overnight in refrigerator.
Transfer dough to floured surface. Form dough into a ball and place in parchment-lined 4-quart or larger Dutch oven. Allow to rise one hour or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Bake, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes. Uncover and bake additional 20 to 30 minutes or until deep, golden brown.
Remove bread from pot and cool completely, about two hours. Slice once completely cool as it keeps cooking as it cools.
— From Travis Drury, of Massachusetts and originally Lafayette
Makes one large loaf
3/4 cup active starter
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water, preferably filtered
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups plus 2 tablespoons bread flour, spooned and leveled (not all-purpose flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
Fine ground cornmeal, for dusting
6-quart Dutch oven for baking recommended
Dough: Whisk the starter, water and olive oil in a large bowl. Add flour and salt. Squish together by hand until all flour is absorbed. Rest (autolyse) for 30 minutes.
Bulk fermentation: Work dough into a rough ball, about 15 seconds. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and clean kitchen towel. Leave in a warm, sunny spot to rise. Dough is ready when no longer looks dense and has increased in volume about 1 1/2 to twice its original size (anywhere from three to 12 hours). To strengthen dough, perform series of “stretch and folds” like this: Gather portion of dough, stretch it upwards and fold over itself. Rotate bowl and repeat until coming full circle once or twice.
Cutting and shaping: Remove dough and place onto floured surface. Do not need to punch down dough as it will gently deflate as it is folded and shaped. Move dough to non-floured surface. Starting at top, fold dough over toward center. Rotate and repeat until coming full circle. Flip dough and place seam side down. Using your hands, cup sides of dough and rotate it, using quarter turns in circular motion.
Second rise: Coat bottom of dutch oven with cornmeal or parchment paper to prevent sticking. Place dough in for second rise, about one to two hours, until slightly puffy.
Slashing: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Right before entering the oven, make shallow two-inch slashes in the center of the dough.
Baking: Place into oven (lid on) and reduce temperature to 400 degrees. Bake 20 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake for additional 40 minutes or until deep, golden brown. During last 10 minutes of baking, crack open oven door to allow moisture to escape. For sourdough, internal temperature of bread should read about 205 degrees.
Cool: Cool on wire rack at least one hour before slicing. Cutting too soon gives a gummy texture.
— From Brenda Keller
Makes about 12 slices
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon any dried herb (rosemary or thyme)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups diet 7-Up or Sprite
2 tablespoons vinegar or apple cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix flour, baking soda, dried herb and salt in large mixing bowl. Add carbonated beverage and vinegar. Combine and mix. Batter should be slightly loose/wet.
Spray loaf pan with cooking spray. Place dough into pan, spreading evenly.
Bake for 50 minutes.
— From John and Lana Mourning
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 tablespoon vinegar added to 1 cup milk)
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine flour, soda and buttermilk.
Knead and shape dough. Make an “X” across top.
Add melted butter on top, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and pepper.
On cookie sheet, bake 35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool before slicing.
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.