Who can resist the scent of bread baking in the oven? My wonderful mother loved baking bread and I must have inherited that particular gene. I was determined to make the transition from baking in our large kitchen and spacious oven to our new, much smaller digs. The first MAJOR challenge in French Bread baking was finding ovenware to fit in the convection oven. My beloved baking sheet to my dismay was too long. Most convection ware is too small. I appealed to my creative husband to solve this dilemma. Sure enough he remodeled my beloved pan by bending the handles upward. Alas, a pan that was a PERFECT fit for our convection oven. The next challenge was my tried and true recipes did not turn out as well in the convection, so through trial and error we found three reliable, full proof recipes to suit our needs: Everything Bagels, Focaccia Bread and Crusty French Bread. We give you fair warning…..if you try these, you may never want store-bought bread ever again….
Homemade Everything Bagels (makes 12 to 15)
• 2 cups warm water, about 110 degrees F
• 2 (1/4-ounce) packets active dry yeast
• 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
• 5 to 6 cups all-purpose unbleached flour (1 or 2 whole wheat)
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 2 teaspoons olive oil
• Pam Cooking Spray
• 2 tablespoons yellow coarse cornmeal
Optional Toppings: (sprinkle on after water dip)
• lightly toasted chopped onions, dry onion powder, poppy seeds, dried granulated garlic, sesame seeds, flax seeds, sea salt, etc. (whatever you want)
Combine the water, yeast, and 3 tablespoons of the sugar in a bowl .. Stir and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Gradually add 4 cups of the flour and the salt, and mix (I use wooden spoon and tall glass bowl) until the mixture comes together.
Add 1 to 1 1/2 cups additional flour 1/2 cup at a time to make a stiff dough, either stirring with the wooden spoon or working with your hands. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and no longer sticky, about 5 minutes, adding just as much flour as needed. (Dough should be heavier and stiffer than regular yeast bread dough.)
John usually kneads while I clean and olive oil the glass bowl 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat. Pam one side of plastic wrap, cover the bowl, top with folded bath towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until almost doubled, about 1 hour to an hour and a half. Tips: do not place the bowl on wood surface, not granite or corian (too cold).
Remove from the bowl and punch down the dough. Divide into 12 equal pieces, about 2 to 3 ounces each, measuring about 4 inches across. Form each piece of dough into a ball. Roll each ball into a 4 to 6-inch log. Join the ends and place fingers through the hole and roll the ends together. Repeat with the remaining dough. Place on baking sheet sprayed with Pam and sprinkled with coarse corn meal. Cover with the same cling wrap, and let rest until risen but not doubled in a draft-free spot, while preheating convection oven to 400 degrees.
In a large, heavy pot, bring 6 cups of water and the remaining tablespoon of sugar to a boil.. Remove from heat and, In batches, add the bagels to the water turning, for no more than 30 seconds. Flip bagels back onto the prepared sheet pan. Sprinkle on desired toppings. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees turning bagels once for the last 5 minutes of baking.
Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.
Convection Focaccia Recipe
15 to 20 min 400 degrees
• 2 teaspoons rapid-rising dry yeast
• 1 cup warm water
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
• 3/4 tablespoon coarse salt dissolved in 2 tbsp water
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• Coarse cornmeal for dusting
• we used garlic powder, shredded Parmesan Cheese, and fresh rosemary
In tall glass bowl proof the yeast by combining it with the warm water and sugar. Stir gently to dissolve. Let stand 3 minutes until foam appears. Slowly add and stir in the first two cups of flour.. Dissolve salt in 2 tablespoons of water and add it to the mixture. Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil and stir in the remaining flour. Mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and fold over itself a few times. Form the dough into a round and place in an oiled bowl, turn to coat the entire ball with oil so it doesn't form a skin. Cover with plastic wrap or damp towel and let rise in warm, draft-free place.until doubled in size, about 45 minutes (may take longer if not warm enough surroundings or if not using rapid rise yeast).
Coat a sheet pan with a little olive oil and corn meal. Once the dough is doubled and domed, turn it out onto the counter. Roll and stretch the dough out to an oblong shape about 1/2-inch thick. Lay the flattened dough on the pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 15 minutes.
In the meantime, coat a small saute pan with olive oil, add the onion, and cook over low heat for 15 minutes until the onions caramelize. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Uncover the dough and dimple (poke) with your fingertips. Brush the surface with more olive oil and then add optional toppings: caramelized onions, garlic, olives, cheese, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Bake on convection rack for 15 to 20 minutes.
Whole Wheat French Bread Recipe – (round style pictured in header and above)
Cooking Time: about 20 to 25 minutes 400 degrees
Rising Time: about 2 hours
2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
3 cups All Purpose White Flour
1 tbsp. Sugar
2 tsp. Salt
1 tbsp. Dry Active Yeast
1. Sift the two flours together into a large bowl. Mix in salt and sugar with hand. Move the ingredients to the sides of the bowl, creating a large "well" (an empty space) in the middle.
2. Pour the yeast into the "well" and pour 2 cups of lukewarm water over the yeast. Sprinkle about 1 tbsp. of flour over top. Wait (about 10 minutes) for bubbles to appear in the yeast.
3. Once the bubbles have appeared, you can start to mix together the ingredients (hands work best) to form the dough. The best way to do this, is to gradually incorporate the flour that is "waiting" on the sides of the bowl. Doing it all at once will be too difficult. So, go bit by bit, if it's too liquid, just add a bit more flour at the end. You should finish this "pre-kneading" stage with a round, firm ball of dough. Again, if it's too sticky, add a little more flour.
4. Kneading: remove the bread from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Knead it by pushing your palms into and then turning it one quarter. Keep kneading and doing quarter turns for about 5-10 minutes, or until the bread is supple and non-sticky.
5. Place the bread in a lightly floured bowl and cover with a damp dish cloth. Let it rise for about 2 hours (depends on the room temperature, you want it to be fairly warm). It should double in size.
6. Preheat oven to 400°F. Re-sprinkle a counter top (or other surface) with flour. Prepare a baking pan by lightly oiling and flouring it (or bake on top of parchment paper). With your hands, remove bread and place on floured surface. Punch it down once, hard, with your palms. Now, re-shape it into a ball. Put the ball on the baking pan. Using a sharp knife, cut diagonal lines across the top of the bread. Whisk the egg, and using a brush (or a teaspoon) coat the top of the bread. Put in oven and bake for 30 minutes (more or less, depending on how much you like it browned).
The famous bread pan that we bent the handles up on to fit the convection!