Friday, August 27, 2010


By Head Chef Orlo Coots.

The aroma of freshly baked bread- is there a better smell in a home? Baking bread is one of the easiest and most rewarding things a chef can do in the kitchen.

By choosing the correct recipe, you can turn out fantastic and consistent loaves very easily. Mixing and kneading the dough can be done by using a mixer or food processor, though doing the process by hand can be a soothing and relaxing exercise.

Bread baking consists of just a few ingredients to start with- flour, yeast, sugar, salt, butter or oil and water. We will keep with the basics to start so that your first loaf is a success and will be the stepping-stone to future loaves.

The recipe provided here is a variation of the one I started with when I bought my own business 8 years ago. I have tweaked it a little and it is readily adaptable to other ingredients. When kneading is complete, the dough should be smooth, soft and supple.

A key to a good loaf is in the rise. I put it inside a turned off oven in the summer and near the wood stove in the winter when baking at home. It should take about 45 to 60 minutes to double in size. After shaping, return the loaves back to proof again for another 45 minutes. Make sure to remove from the oven before preheating.

Basic Bread Loaf
2 cups plus 1 cup All Purpose Flour
1 package (1 ½ teaspoons) Dried Yeast
1-tablespoon sugar
1-tablespoon salt
1-tablespoon oil
2 oz hot (110-115 degrees) water to activate yeast
6 oz hot (110-115 degrees) water

*Put yeast into a small bowl or cup, add 2 oz water. Let sit for 10 minutes until foamy. If it is not foamy, the yeast is not working properly.
*Put 2 cups flour, salt, sugar, oil and yeast into processor. Blend 30 seconds.
*Slowly add 4 oz of water, until dough comes together.
*Add last cup of flour, process while slowly adding last 2 oz water. Dough should come together and scrape sides of bowl. Knead in machine 1-2 minutes, until dough is soft and smooth.
*Lightly grease a mixing bowl, put dough into bowl and cover tightly with wrap.
*Place aside to proof until double in size.
*Punch dough to release air. Divide into two French bread –style loaves onto a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal. Spray with pan spray, allow to double again in size.
*Preheat oven to 350. Bake 20 minutes, spin pan end to end, bake 10 more minutes. Loaves should be nicely golden brown. Let rest 5 minutes, slice and enjoy each bite.

Orlo Coots is Head Chef at Adair Country Inn & Restaurant. Enjoy his cooking by making a reservation at 603-444-2600. Orlo can be reached at for questions about this recipe or any other food-related questions. Remember — whether cooking for one or for a crowd, make every bite count.

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