It snowed again today. No one was happy about it. I needed something warm and comforting and bread seemed like the perfect way to cozy up the house.
At altitude, bread is always tricky. I have a few alterations, but no guarantees they will work every time. One thing I usually do is a quick-rise. I turn the kneaded bread out into a prepared pan. In this case my big cast iron skillet.
I cover it with a damp towel and wax paper and let it double. I don’t punch it down and do second rise. This creates a loaf that is denser and a bit yeastier – less complex in flavors than a double-rise loaf, but eliminates the risk of the dough rising too much, and then falling and creating a brick instead of a loaf of bread. Then I brush the loaf with cold water, place a tray of ice cubes in a shallow baking pan on the bottom rack and bake as usual. At the 20 minute mark I do an egg wash and let bake until it reaches 200 degrees F in the center (thanks JeffreyW for that tidbit).
This gives it a nice crisp, chewy crust. Some butter and honey and you’re all set to go. What’s this? I went to the cupboard and the honey pot was empty. Oh bother.