Self-Isolation is the name of the game during a global pandemic, so we’re going out less and staying in more. But you know what what’s nice, pandemic or no? Fresh bread for lunch.
So here’s my self-isolation bread. It’s a french bread recipe that contains no fat at all, so I don’t expect it would keep well. My goal was to make just enough to have it for lunch, with an eye towards not needing to store any of it afterwards. It keeps those clean hands busy! You can see the buns I’m making out of it are pretty huge. I’m feeding three people with this recipe, but you could stretch it to four pretty easily.
2 cups of flour
2 tsp salt
2 level tablespoons or two envelopes of rapid rise yeast (the orange package)
1/4 cup (ish) warm water
1 cup of water
Arrange the racks in your oven so that you’ve got one in the middle and another underneath it.
Pour flour into a bowl. Add salt and mix well. Add yeast, and mix that well, too. Add the warm water and stir. Add more water or flour if it seems too wet or dry.
Use your freshly washed hands to mix and knead the dough for at least ten minutes. Given how small this ball of dough is, there’s no need to transfer it to a surface to knead it, you can keep it in the bowl. Dough should smell yeasty and have a springy but not sticky texture.
Rest your dough ball in the bowl. Dampen a dish towel and use it to cover the dough and the bowl itself. Ideally, leave it in a warm place, like in a patch of sunlight. Leave it to rise for about an hour or so. It will at least double in size.
Once your dough has risen, preheat the oven to 405F/205C. Lightly flour a baking sheet and a bit of counter. Move your dough onto a floured surface and shape it into as many buns as you’d like to serve. I have generally formed it into 3 buns, but 4 would be a snap. Put them on the baking sheet.
Crack an egg into a cup and beat it well to create an eggwash. Using a pasty brush, apply the eggwash to your buns. Score your buns with a sharp knife.
Pour a cup of water into a wide pan or casserole dish. Put it on the lowest rack in your oven. (The water in the oven will give your bread a nice crust.) Pop your baking sheet with your buns on it into the oven for about 30 minutes, or until they’ve puffed up and look nicely browned on the the top.
Serve with butter, cheese, and, if you’re lucky, Noah Martin summer sausage from St. Jacob’s, Ontario. Or however you like to.
Enjoy self-isolation as best you can!