Bread (Chlieb)

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Ingredients: 2lb flour, pack of yeast, milk, sugar, caraway
Prep Time: 2 hours

Good bread is hard to find in America. At least, if you don’t want to spend upward of 5 dollars for a tiny artisan loaf. So I had my grandmother show me how to bake bread. In this recipe, I show you how to make bread at home, without the use of any fancy gizmos. All you need is flour and yeast, and the will to get your hands a little dirty.

2lb flour yeast
Place 2lbs of flour (múka) into a large container. Prepare the yeast mixture (kvások) by dissolving yeast in a bit of warm milk (mlieko) or water (voda, we used water). Also add a teaspoon of sugar (cukor) and caraway seeds (rasca). Grandma also used a small amount of mashed potatoes left over from making breaded steak. Supposedly mashed potatoes help the bread not get crumbly.

dough for bread making top flour
Knead the ingredients using your hands until you get a smooth dough that easily separates from the pot. Dust the top with flour.

risen dough scoop out
Cover, and let rise for about an hour. Then scoop out onto a wooden board generously covered with flour.

dough rolling dough loaf
Roll the dough over and over for about 15 minutes until various deformities get smoothed out. Shape into a loaf.

dough in baking pan let rise
Place the loaf into a baking pan few inches deep. Grease all around. Let rise. If you feel creative, you can use a knife to cut in some designs.

baking bread in wood burning over soften crust with water
Place on the bottom rack of a stove preheated to 200C. Then lower the temperature to 150C for baking. Bake for 40 minutes. You can check if the bread is done by running some stick down the middle and seeing if any dough sticks to it (it shouldn’t). Brush water onto the crust of the finished bread to soften the crust. Skip this step if you like your crust hard. Note: Temperatures listed here are the estimates my grandma gave me. We baked the bread in a wood burning stove. We started baking at “a lot of logs” and finished at “fewer logs”. I’ll post an update once I make bread back in the States..

homemade bread baked in a wood burning oven with cheese and butter
And that’s it. Here is the typical old-fashioned Slovak breakfast: home baked bread, butter and smoked cheese.