BUT ANDY, crieth no less than seven messages in my inbox after the posting of my spend-less-food-money-tips, BREAD IS HAAAARD!!
No it’s not, motherfuckers. Sit down and get learned how to bread.
You can batter bread if you want to use lots of fruits and veggies and make shit that’s basically cake that gets called stuff like tea bread. You can sourdough bread if you want to never buy yeast again and have lots of rocking flavor and a thing in a jar on your counter that you can totally take care of if you can keep a goddamned goldfish alive. You can make flat bread if you don’t have time for no crap and wanna make wraps or breadplates and want bread from a friggin’ frying pan in five minutes flat. You can even make cool shit like salt bread and soda bread if you don’t think your bread’s got enough SCIENCE in it. All those breads are easy and I can teach you and will later if you hang around my blog.
But we’re not gonna go there right now. Keepin’ it simple for starters and making the bread most Americans think of when you say the word, while at the same time teaching you to mix it up, keep it creative, fuck the man, and make bald eagles cry with your rebel ingenuity.
1. Watch the teaser of a one-hour show. Make it Arrow, so you don’t mind if you’re off by 10 seconds. When the commercials come on, START WITH SOME LIQUID in your biggest bowl. About a cupish, the temperature of a warm bath. Should feel warm to the touch but you can stick your finger in it or put it in your mouth without even a baby wincing. What kind of liquid? ALMOST ANY KIND YOU GODDAMN WANT THAT WON’T HURT TO PUT ON A CUT. Tea, coffee, juice, unsalted broth, beer, milk, water, even get super-hardcore and use goddamned diluted animal blood…if it’s not so salty or so acid that you’d howl if it got on a paper cut, it’s cool.
2. ADD YEAST. About a tablespoonish, or fill the little cup you can make with your palm when you squinch your hand. Mix that up. Add about the same amount or as much as a big fistful of SOME SWEET CRAP. Sorghum, corn syrup, molasses, palm sugar, date sugar, coconut sugar, cane sugar, maple syrup, honey, melted ice cream, soda, melted gummy bears, jam, hickory syrup, cane juice, as long as it has calories and tastes sweet, you’re good, because your yeast ain’t on a diet.
3. LET THE YEASTS FUCK. Go back. Watch the first act of your show. When the commercials hit again, go back to your bread. It should look different. If it does, you have good yeast. If it doesn’t, your yeast is dead. Mourn its loss and get new yeast or make another kind of bread, but yeast bread ain’t happening with dead yeast. Oh, and next time, don’t keep your yeast in a super-hot place or forever. Yeast not dead? Ok. ADD FAT. Coconut oil, veggie oil, melted butter, corn oil, bacon grease, lard, peanut oil, olive oil…once again, about a tablespoonish, and no shits are given as to what as long as it’s some kind of fat. IF YOU’RE FEELING ALL EXTRAVAGANT, THROW IN AN EGG. No? No problem. The bread didn’t need your stupid fucking egg anyway. ADD A BIG THREE-FINGER PINCH OF SALT. NOW ADD FLOUR. White, wheat, bread, cake, whatever. As long as it’s got gluten. Gluten’s gonna make your bread rise up all big and fluffy. (You can’t rock gluten? This is a sad day for you, my friend, but it you know you can’t with the big G, you also already know about alternative flours, so you have the knowledge to do your thing.) How much flour? AS MUCH AS IT TAKES TO MAKE DOUGH. Get all up in there with your hands, add a handful at a time, and you’re probably gonna be in the 3-5 cups neighborhood AFTER it pulls away from the sides of the bowl and makes one big not so sticky ball and BEFORE it gets crumbly. Fucked up and added too much? Add more liquid. Fucked up and didn’t add enough? Add more flour.
4. Take your big bowl and go back to the show. You’re in the second act now. Things are getting bad. Take your feels out on the bread in the bowl in your lap and knead the shit out of it. SMASH LIKE HULK, fold in half, flip around, SMASH LIKE HULK again. Keep doing this the whole second act. It’ll get all smooth and silky and stretchy and awesome. If it’s sticky, throw in more flour, a half-handful at a time. When it goes to commercials, oil it (by which I mean either put a few drops of oil in your hand and rub it on quickly or just use fucking cooking spray) put a kitchen towel or a sweatshirt or whatever over that bowl, and put it somewhere that’s warm enough for you to stand naked without getting sweaty. Shit, friend, tuck the bowl under the blankets with you on the couch, even! Your body heat is awesome! (Oh, what’s that? You’re all fancy-ass and wanna mix in up to three handfuls of stuff like nuts, chopped fruit, chopped olives, dried fish, dried meat, sun-dried tomatoes, bacon, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, herbs, spices, chili peppers, cold cereal, or candy? Sure thing, friend! Now is when you do that!)
5. Finish the show. Hear one of J2 announce their name and that the good show’s coming up next. Watch the tease and see the vic of the week get introduced to their own liquidy parts. During the first commercials, go back to your bread. It’s bigger now, yeah? Cool. Smash it down again, then make it into the bread-shape you want. Leave it a blob, get all fancy and braid it, shove it in an oiled loaf pan, break it into balls, cut it into breadsticks, whatever. You can also oil it, wrap it in plastic wrap, throw it in the fridge right now if you wanna turn it into pretzles or bagels or pizza crust or other bread stuff later. It’ll keep about a week in the fridge. You can even make two or three of these balls at the start of the week and have fresh bread at any point through the week by hauling them out and just baking them.
6. But you want your bread TONIGHT, right? Something warm and buttery to eat while you’re blogging your feels? Cool. Just shape your bread on the thing you’re gonna bake it on and then leave it in the warm place again while you sit your ass down.
7. End of act one, turn the oven on. 350F
8. End of act two, put your bread in that oven. You want stuff on top of your bread, like sesame seeds, poppy seeds, onion flakes, or cinnamon? Well put it on there! Want shiny bread? Brush on some egg! Want a softer crust? Stick a thing of water in the oven at the same time to make steam!
9. If it’s little bread, like rolls or breadsticks, it’ll be done at the end of act three. Medium bread will be done at the end of act four, big bread will be done after the trailer for next week’s episode. It’s done when it’s all goldy-browner than it was when you started, weighs less than when you put it in, and is dry looking and sounds hollow when you tap the top with your fingernails.
10. Eat that shit hot and fresh with whatever you put on bread. If you want it crusty, let it stay open. If you want it softer, wrap it up tight in a towel or foil instantly as soon as it comes out of the oven and let it sit ten minutes like that.
See? Told you it’s not scary.