Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fresh Bread

Back in December I started baking my own bread, and now we enjoy fresh delicious bread for just pennies compared to store bought bread. Several of my friends have asked for my bread recipe so I decided to post it instead of writing it a million times.
I found an amazing recipe that only takes 2 1/2 hours from start to finish. Don't stop reading because of the time commitment! I was worried that I wouldn't be able to find the time to do this, but if I start the bread going before breakfast it's usually done by the time we are all showered and ready to go somewhere. If I have early morning activities scheduled I do it in the evening right after dinner. So far this year I've made about 60 loaves of bread!

This recipe is so stinkin easy and actually faster than using a bread machine. What could possibly be better than easy and fast? Well, let me tell you: DELICIOUS! I read a comment that helped me modify the recipe for use with my Kitchen Aid Mixer. Of course one could easily modify it back to traditional kneading if they want to, but I have great results with much less mess! Here is my version, which also includes less sugar so it's perfect for daily bread use. If you want the original version, click here.

White Bread
2 C warm water {recipe says 110º F, but I don't use a thermometer to check - I just run my tap water until it's borderline hot}
¼ C white sugar
1 ½ Tablespoons active dry yeast
¼ C vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoons salt
6 C flour

1. In a large Kitchen Aid bowl dissolve the sugar in warm water, then stir in yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam {this is when I sift my 6 cups of flour, and it's usually proofed by the time I'm done measuring and sifting}.

2. Mix salt & oil into yeast. Using dough hook, mix in one cup of flour at a time. Let dough hook knead for 5 minutes. Take out and put a little oil in bowl; turn dough to coat. Cover with plastic saran wrap and a towel. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk; about 1 hour.

3. Punch dough down. Knead for a couple minutes til it's not oily anymore and cut in half. Use a rolling pin to squish out all the air bubbles and roll it into a rectangle shape about as wide as your bread pan, maybe a touch wider. Roll up, tuck in the edges to shape into loaves, and place in two well greased bread pans seam-side down. Cover with same saran wrap from above, cover with a towel, and let rise 30 minutes or until dough reaches top of pans or 1 inch above. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool 10 minutes before slicing {otherwise bread will cave...believe me, I've tried to eat it immediately and it didn't work. Even after knowing it would cave if I sliced it right away I've done it, but boy was it delicious!}

If you're interested in doing a little learning yourself, check out this post with the links I found to be the most helpful in my quest for bread knowledge. You'll find info on shaping, freezing, and more!

Update: After making this bread recipe once or twice weekly for a year and a half, I realized somewhere over time I omitted a couple steps. I haven't noticed a difference in the quality of my bread, so I updated my recipe accordingly. Raise your hand if you like fewer steps and less time to make homemade bread!

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