Everything encourages yeast breads to fail at high altitudes. Yup, everything: dry air, thin air, aggressive kneading, water softeners... your apron is probably causing trouble, too. Yeast breads are just that temperamental high in the mountains.
- The terms 'instant' and 'rapid rise' yeast are relevant to people who live at the bottom of the hill. High altitude baking requires patience. Let yeast percolate slowly in the 'frig for a few hours.
- Use bread flour vs. all purpose flour.
- Water softeners fiddle with yeast magic, try bottled water. (I use sparkling water since it's always in my 'frig.)
- Terra cotta planters or terra cotta saucers make great bread pans.
Artisan Bread Recipe
4 cups bread flour
2-1/4 teaspoons instant rapid rise yeast
3 teaspoons honey
10 ounces bottled, filtered, or sparkling water
3 teaspoons salt
Create a liquid yeast mixture: Combine 1/4th of the flour and ALL of the yeast, honey and water. Refrigerate for a few hours.
Now the fun begins...
Mix the rest of the dry ingredients with the liquid yeast mixture. Let rise for 30 minutes. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. Knead it by hand. It's great exercise. (Just try it on a timer, if you don't believe me. 10 min. is a long time!)
Create a humid environment:
Fill your largest casserole dish with hot water, stick it in the oven.
Put bread dough on upper oven rack, let rise for about 2 hours.
Humidity + clay baking pan = 1 perfect loaf of bread!
Knead gently, let dough rest for 15 minutes. Repeat. Give terra cotta pot or saucer a non-stick spray. Let dough rise about 1 hour.
Brush with egg white and water.
Bake @ 400 (F) for about 1 hour.