Baking bread is a very new adventure for me. It was one of those things on my “I need to learn how to do that” list, but I kept putting it off (and off and off). You would think that on a journey toward frugality and self sufficiency that baking your own bread would be one of the first things to learn. It should be, BUT patience is one of those fruits of the spirit that I’m lacking. The whole kneading and rising thing sounded heavy in the patience area. I guess I’m afraid of yeast, or rather WAS afraid of yeast… Well ok, I was afraid of KILLING yeast. It just sounded so violent. Every time I looked at a bread recipe or any recipe that had yeast, I would think….WOW that’s a lot of instructions and that will take all day long, and I will probably kill the yeast ending up with rocks after slaving in the kitchen all day!! I’m a banana bread and biscuit kinda girl. Mix it up and throw it in the oven, (no patience required) that’s how I roll. 😀
So lets just say that making my first loaf of bread was a big step for me, (okay it was a HUGE step for me). I set aside a whole day to make two loaves of bread because I really believed it would take all day. I took a deep breath, put on my “patience hat” (sorry, I used to be a preschool teacher) and got out my yeast and flour!
I’m happy to report that my first two loaves of bread were a success, and it didn’t even take all day!! In fact I can’t believe I put this off for so long. It was way easier and less time consuming than I thought. The baking bread made my house smell heavenly and what a sense of accomplishment to pull two plump, golden brown loaves of bread out of the oven just in time for lunch. 😀
My mother in law gave me this wonderful magazine that’s full of awesome bread recipes with very detailed instructions. I highly recommend it, especially for first time bread makers (you can find it on Amazon). The first recipe in the book is white sandwich bread. It’s a pretty basic recipe and,… well,… my husband eats LOTS of white sandwich bread (I can’t convince him that whole wheat tastes better and is better for him). It’s the recipe I started with, and it turned out so well I thought I would share it with you. I’ve made it several times now and we all like it!
- 1 cup warm water (105-115 Degrees F)
- 11/2 tablespoon yeast
- 13/4 cups milk
- ¼ cup melted butter
- 3 tablespoons sugar (I used sucanat)
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 61/2 to 71/4 cups flour
- Follow steps 1-6 below
Step 1 – Put 1/2 cup of warm water, yeast and a pinch of sugar to a small bowl. Stir to dissolve the yeast then let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes until foamy.
Step 2 – In an electric stand mixer or a large bowl, combine the remaining water, milk, butter, sugar and salt. Add the yeast mixture, and stir until combined. Add 2 cups of the flour, and mix well. Continue to stir the mixture for one or two minutes until smooth and creamy. Add additional flour in 1/2 cup increments, stirring well after each addition until the dough holds together and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Step 3 – Put the dough on a well floured surface, or if you have a dough hook for your stand up mixer you can use that to knead the dough. I think the best part of making dough is kneading with my hands. Knead in the remaining flour, adding a tablespoon or two at a time, until the smooth dough no longer sticks to your hands. It will take about 5 minutes by hand, less if you use the mixer.
Step 4 – Place the dough into a large greased bowl (I used a little olive oil) turning it over so the dough is coated with oil. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature until it has doubled in size. It will take about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Step 5 – Grease two 9X5 inch loaf pans. Divide the dough equally and shape each piece to fit in the loaf pans, place in the greased loaf pans and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow the loaves to rise at room temperature until doubled again. It will take about 30 minutes this time.
Step 6 – Preheat the oven to 350 degrees while the loaves rise. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. The loaves should sound hollow when tapped. Allow loaves to cool completely before slicing.
This bread works great for sandwiches, toast and french toast. It is a little crumbly and it goes bad faster than store bought bread, but it tastes better, it’s less expensive and I know exactly whats in it!