I consider myself to be more of a cook than a baker. And that’s mostly because I love savory food over sweet food. So when I bake, I mostly make bread. Now I know working with yeast can be intimidating. But I have a couple tips for you for bread baking.
- Buy your yeast in bulk. My grocery store sells a three pack of yeast for $1.99. At Sam’s Club (or online) I can buy 100 x that amount for $7. I just put the bulk yeast in a mason jar and keep it in my refrigerator. I’ve had the latest batch in my fridge for about nine months now, and it's fine.
- Make sure when you proof your yeast with warm water, the water doesn’t exceed 110 degrees. Any hotter than that, and you’ll kill the yeast before you even start.
- Find a great spot to let your bread proof. My house is a bit drafty, and especially in the winter can be a bit cool. I proof my dough in the microwave with the door shut, or in my oven with the oven light on.
The best part about making bread is that you don’t need any fancy equipment. I typically use a plastic storage container, because I like that I can see to the bottom of the bowl and make sure that all the flour is incorporated. And I simply use my hand to mix up all the ingredients.
This is my simple recipe to start you out on baking bread at home that is foolproof. Simple ingredients, a little time to let the dough rise, and then just 30 minutes to bake! How easy is that?
Rosemary Sea Salt Skillet Bread
3 teaspoons bulk yeast
2 cups warm water
½ tablespoon salt
5 cups flour
Coarse sea salt
In a large bowl, add the yeast and water and let it sit for five minutes. Here is where you’ll be able to tell if your yeast is good – if it foams up and bubbles, you are good to go.
Mix in the salt and flour and using your hand (or wooden spoon) mix until combined.
It will be a bit sticky, and that’s perfectly fine. Cover with a towel and let it rise for one hour.
I use a cast iron skillet or a Dutch oven pan to bake my bread. Both are great conductors of heat and hold the temperature really well. For today’s bread, I used my Lodge brand skillet that I’ve had for years. We actually sell Lodge brand skillets at both locations of The Chopping Block in Lincoln Square and Merchandise Mart, and they start at only $24!
After the first rise, pour a teaspoon of olive oil in the skillet, then wet your hands and remove the dough from the bowl. Using wet hands prevents the dough from sticking to your fingers. Press down to evenly distribute the dough in the pan. Brush the dough with another teaspoon of olive oil, then sprinkle with rosemary and sea salt. Let rise until your oven gets to 400 degrees.
Bake for 30 minutes. Allow the bread to cool if you can before slicing. Serve along with a delicious bowl of soup, or slice it thin and use it to make Panini sandwiches.
We have some great bread making classes coming up to help you with your baking skills:
At our Lincoln Square location, you can learn how to spruce up your holiday meals this year with freshly baked bread during Homemade Breads for the Holiday Table on November 18.
At our Merchandise Mart location, you can make your own bread (and soup!) at The Perfect Pair: Soup and Bread Workshop on November 15. If you are avoiding gluten, we are also offering Gluten-Free Breads with all new recipes on November 12.
I hope you try this bread recipe out and let me know how it turns out. Happy baking!