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Pastry chef Nick Malgieri shows how to fold dough while shaping it into bread.
MIKE CARDEW/AKRON BEACON JOURNAL
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By Lisa Abraham
Akron Beacon Journal
It's the time of year when the soup kettle, the chili pot, and the stew in the slow cooker are all bubbling.
All you need to complete the perfect fall meal is a nice loaf of warm bread.
Before you race off to buy one, consider taking one hot from your oven. It's easier than you may think.
New York pastry chef Nick Malgieri's new book, "Nick Malgieri's Bread" ($29.95, Kyle Books), shows just how effortless it can be to turn out a perfect loaf of bread.
Malgieri's recipe for Easiest Home-Baked Bread lives up to its name.
"What I love about it is you can make this bread in the afternoon and serve it for dinner," he said.
The recipe takes about 2 hours from start to finish, including baking time.
"Basic bread is just flour, water, yeast and salt," he said, explaining the simple ingredients.
Malgieri, director of the baking program at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, said he is always surprised by how intimidated home cooks can become when a recipe calls for yeast.
"It's as though yeast is, I don't know--it's not poison," he said, noting the fear factor.
For years, American bread recipes contained so much flour that they produced dense loaves with little flavor and character. Malgieri said that for his book he developed bread recipes for working with today's finely granulated yeasts that are foolproof.
The single biggest cause of failure for cooks working with yeast is beginning by dissolving the yeast into water that is too hot, he said.
Today's instant and rapid-rise yeast products are so finely granulated that they will dissolve in lukewarm tap water. When using popular brands of yeast available in grocery stores, instant, rapid rise and bread machine formulations are interchangeable in recipes.
Work with an unbleached bread flour for best results, and if your water is very hard from excess chemicals, consider using bottled spring water for recipes to avoid giving bread a mineral taste.
Malgieri's bread requires no pre-ferment or starter, and the gluten begins to develop within the first 2 minutes of mixing.
A 15-minute rest and another 2 minutes in the mixer produces a dough that is smooth and elastic.
EASIEST HOME-BAKED BREAD
Makes one 9- or 10-inch round loaf
1 cups room-temperature