Hi from Alaska...a newbie with a question
Hi from Homer!
I've recently lived on a sailboat and expect to do so again. This means I NEED to be a bread baker. My husband bakes lovely bread in the galley oven. I started last winter and have really been enjoying it, though I've thus far limited myself to a wheat bread recipe that we love and prefer for our standard toast and sandwich bread (it's supposedly the Pepperidge Farm recipe). I plan to experiment more with vital wheat gluten and the recipes in a recent Mother Earth News. My goal is to develop a repertoire of a half dozen great breads that:
1) create low mess,
2) require minimal kitchenware and counter space,
3) don't require any refrigerated ingredients,
4) will be resilient enough to proof in a somewhat chillier-than-normal environment and
5) bake in a kerosene oven with no thermostat.
Before I ask my question of the moment, I'll just say that this wheat recipe has turned out fabulous every time, even with my confusion: The recipe makes three loaves and calls for 4 cups each of white and wheat flour. After mixing, it says "When the dough begins to leave the sides of the bowl, turn it out onto a lightly floured board (about 1 Tbsp per cup of flour in the recipe). Turn the dough several times to make it easier to handle. Cover with a cloth and let rest for 10-15 min before kneading."
Here's my problem. Following the recipe exactly, the dough is far too wet and sticky to handle much at all while kneading. The instructions indicate that I knead on a surface with appx 8 Tbsp of flour. HA! I must heavily flour-and-knead, flour-and-knead, for ages while I incorporate (probably) another TWO CUPS of flour, and all the rolly bits from my hands and fingers, before the dough becomes "smooth and elastic" prior to the first proof. Am I doing something wrong? Is there any reason why I can't just add one more cup to the recipe so the dough isn't so unwieldy?
Thanks, and looking forward to learning from all of you...
ps: also interested in your pressure cooker bread recipes and/or easy flatbreads, chappattis and naans that I can make in a cast-iron skillet.