Lesson for Lazy Cooks

August 25, 2010

Feature, Food

At the risk of repeating myself, I’m going to incur the wrath of certain cooks by trying to destroy one of those myths that plagues people who would like to eat fresh bread but have no local or decent bakery. Sorry, dedicated bread makers, but this business about complicated bread making is pure crap. You can start after taking care of the breakfast dishes and be sure to have a nice fresh loaf ready for lunch without taking up your whole morning.

You can make a loaf of excellent bread by dipping out 3 cups of flour ( like unbleached but who cares) and putting this aside. Don’t bother to be too precise because you’ll learn to adjust the liquid after a few loaves.

Put 2/3 cup of warm water in a microwaveable bowl, add a pinch of salt, half a stick of butter, 1/4 cup of agave nectar (the cheapest), and a couple of tablespoons of flax meal if you want healthy stuff. Don’t use flax seed as this will go right through your system without doing you a bit of good.

Heat this up in the microwave a bit until the butter is just melting or real soft, add an egg, and stir this stuff up. Best thing is to check the temperature at this point and bring the bowl of liquid up to about 118 degrees F.  Pour into a mixer with a regular spade blade (no dough hooks please) and start mixing.

Add a tablespoon of dry yeast (don’t use the little packages, get a cheaper tin of yeast), mix some more, then add all except a few tablespoons of flour  a serving-spoonful at at time until the whole thing is a rather firm, yet sticky mess. Add a teaspoon of water if it gets too dry. Scrape it out using a spatula onto the small mound of flour which you should have spread out on a cutting board. Now, don’t knead this too much because you don’t need to (ah, there’s a pun). Just kind of push it together and slap it around rather carelessly and roughly, taking up most of the dry flour you had on the board. Butter up that loaf pan real well and push the dough into the bottom of the pan, distributing it evenly. If you want a thicker crust, wet your hand and slap a bit of water on it. Put the pan with dough in a warm place. I use a couple of cheap, foil turkey-roasting pans turned top-to-top over the loaf pan and placed on my warmer at the back of the stove. If you got it right, you should begin heating the oven right away because in about 20 minutes your going to need to start baking it. Wait until the loaf rises and starts to peek over the lip of the pan (which you better have included in the buttering process.)

Bake at 375 for 50  minutes on a middle shelf in the oven. Take it out, dump it out on a rack immediately, and wait five minutes before you cut a hefty slice off one end, slather it with a thick layer of butter, savor the flavor, and wonder why in the world people seem to think bread-making takes hard labor and hours of time.

About charles frenzel

I've been writing all my life. I've also painted, composed, sculpted, contributed to molecular research, advanced some mathematical concepts, lived on a sailboat, and worked for a Nobel Prize winner. Nothing in my life has pleased me more than to share my life with my wife and friend of over forty years.

View all posts by charles frenzel

3 Responses to “Lesson for Lazy Cooks”

  1. Jen Says:

    Wicked, Charles! I have to agree that baking bread is easy peasy

  2. charles frenzel Says:

    I got on my soap box after reading a lengthy article on how many steps it takes to make bread. Heck, add walnuts or anything else to the mix and it comes out fine. This morning I put in some dried rosemary and now the house smells so wonderful. My wife will be pleased when she gets back from Alaska.

  3. Valerie Dickison Says:

    From one lazy cook to another: I call this one “Lazy Meatloaf”. I was going to include it in my website and may get around to it someday. No hurry. Take some ground round and other stuff in the frig you want to get rid off (such as left over rice, dabs of cooked vegetables, stale bread). Mix well, add chopped onion, an egg and a bit of milk. OK, this is a no-brainer: you have made a meatloaf. The trick is you cook it in muffin tins under the broiler unit of the oven. It is ready in about 10 minutes. Left-overs freeze well too in the muffin tin, so you don’t have dishes to clean up. If you are really lazy you can even eat it out of the muffin tin. Sometimes pulling the tin back and forth between everyone at the table can become a bit tedious, I find.

Leave a Reply