It was time to bake a new loaf of bread for lunchtime sandwiches. I set to it Sunday morning and pulled the new loaf out of the oven before noon.
As with all my previous simple loaves, I used the Bread Lab Recipe from Santa Barbara City College’s botany lab class, designed to teach the little ones about plant respiration.
Fresh out of the oven, I had a small slice of bread with sweet butter and a sprinkle of salt, and about half an hour later made myself half a PB&J using farmers market almond butter and homemade strawberry jam. Delish.
Back in the day when I actually had a job somewhat related to my academic studies, ye olde botany days, I prepped the college botany labs.
For most of the college kids, this was their first time baking bread and probably their first time even seeing bread being made. That is very sad as I do recall watching and helping my mother knead bread as a child. The instinct on kneading never goes away. But making bread in the teens and 20s is certainly better than never making bread at all. Imagine whole generations of Americans who have never made bread. It’s boggling, especially with a recipe this easy.
Botany Bread – for teaching the science of respiration
1 tablespoon oil – olive or canola (plus extra to grease the bowl)
3 1/2 Cups all purpose flour (or 2 1/2 c. all purpose plus 1 c. bread flour)
Mix the first four ingredients in a small bowl to make the sponge. Let it sit until the mixture is foamy.
Sift together flour and salt in a large bowl.
Add wet mixture to the dry and combine with a spoon, then mix with hands.
Place out on a floured board and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic – 5 to 10 minutes.
Form into a ball. Put a drizzle of oil into a large bowl and place the dough in it, turning it over to coat all sides with oil. Cover with a cloth and set aside in a warm place away from drafts for about an hour or until risen to twice its size.
Turn out onto the board, punch down and knead a few more times. Form into a log and set into an oiled and flour 9 inch bread pan, seam side down.
Cover with a cloth and again set it sit in a warm place away from drafts until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
Brush with melted butter for a soft crust, or with water for a crunchy crust.
Bake at 375 F for 40-60 minutes or until the top is browned. Tap the bottom to test for doneless – if it sounds hallow it’s ready.
Best served warm and fresh.