Several weeks ago I decided that I was going to make some bread, from scratch. With everything I’ve ever cooked and baked making homemade bread was not something I’d ever done. And to be honest it was sort of daunting.
A few months ago I bought some yeast, you know just in case the urge struck me.
Then one fine morning I looked at my kitchen aid mixer and said, out loud, “let’s make some bread”.
I haven’t bought bread since.
It’s insanely easy to make and I’m kicking myself for not trying it earlier.
I started off with the “Traditional White Bread” recipe out of my Betty Crocker Cookbook. But as with any recipe I couldn’t just follow the instructions so I’ve been trying different variations until I found something I liked and would fit with our whole organic house hold.
1-2 Cups White All Purpose Flour
5-6 Cups Whole Wheat Flour (I like the bulk kind at Wholefoods, it’s ground nicely and makes a nice bread)
3 Tablespoons Raw Sugar (You can substitute with honey if you want a honey wheat bread)
1 Tablespoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Butter Melted
2 Packages Regular or Quick Active Dry Yeast (comes out to 4 1/2 Teaspoons)
2 1/4 Cups Very Warm Water (120° to 130°)
2 Tablespoons Butter
1. In your mixer mix 1 1/2 Cups White Flour and 2 Cups Wheat Flour, the sugar, salt, melted butter, and yeast. Add warm water. Beat on low speed for 1 minute (or until mixed) and don’t forget to scrape the bowl. You’ll start to smell the yeast. It smells awesome. Stir in enough of the remaining wheat flour one cup at a time until you can handle the dough without it sticking everywhere. This will take a while to master.
2. Use the remaining 1/2 Cup White Flour to flour a surface, kneed dough on floured surface for 5-7 minutes or until it is smooth and springy. Pat yourself on the back for rocking out a quick arm workout. Put the dough in a large bowl that you’ve greased with the remaining NOT melted butter. Cover the bowl loosely with a light weight towel in a warm place to let it rise for about 40 to 60 minutes. Take the time to do something productive.
3. Grease two loaf pans with butter.
4. The dough is ready if you poke it and the indentation stays. Lightly punch the dough with your fist to deflate it (this part makes me laugh) and divide it in half. Flatten each half with your hands into an 18 x 9 inch rectangle on your floured surface. Roll your dough tightly (starting at the 9 inch side), pressing down with your fingers to seal it with each turn. Once rolled pinch the edges and roll them under the sides of the loaf. Place each loaf seal side down in your greased pans. Cover em with that same light towel from before and let rise for 25 to 50 minutes until the double in size. While you wait do a little dance cause you’re making home made bread.
5. Heat oven to 425°
6. Put a bit of butter on the top of your loaves and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the loaves are deep golden brown and sound hollow when you tap them. Bask in the delicious smell which now fills your house. After they’re baked pop the loaves out and let them cool a bit on a wire rack. I usually can’t wait for them to cool so I slice a piece and eat it with a bit of butter. I mean, you have to taste test them right?
I know it sounds like a lot of work, but really once you’ve mixed everything it’s just a matter of waiting for it to rise. And think of all the cool stuff you could do in that time!
Like I said, we haven’t bought bread since I first baked our own. My grandfather and grandmother used to bake their own bread all the time, and now I know why. Cause it’s awesome. I bought some large twist tie bags from Wal-Mart so I usually pre-slice a loaf. And since Bill and I can’t finish two loaves in a week I usually gift the other loaf. It’s been wonderful to see the look on my friends faces when I hand them a loaf of fresh baked bread. It makes my heart happy.
From here I’ll be experimenting with different kinds of flours (I get a little giddy when I look at the bulk flour section at Whole Foods). I’ll let you know how it goes.