Monday, January 31, 2011

Homemade Bread

Homemade Bread is a journey that I began about 6 months ago....this is one of those recipes that I tried several different ones, experimented, adjusted until I came up with a good slightly sweet, soft sandwich bread that my family as well as many families in my hometown just love! I am gonna show you how I make it ...however you know all you have to do is give me a call and I will make some for you!
The main reason that I began making bread was the cost! My husbands favorite store bought bread was costing me nearly $3 per homemade version only costs about $.64 per loaf. Since this bread is very freezable and lasts for several days either on the counter or in the fridge I have a baking day once a week. I can make two batches of this recipe (or 4 loaves) and that generally last us the week. I make more depending on what I have going on that week, what is not used is frozen, given away, made into bread crumbs or it never goes to waste around here!

Okay lets get started....The first thing that you need to do is proof your yeast. I use my stand mixer to make my bread so I just pour 2 cups of warm water, 2 tablespoons of yeast and 2/3 cup of sugar into my large mixing bowl! Stir this up until the sugar melts and then just leave it alone for 10 minutes.
2 cups warm water, 2 Tbsp dry yeast, 2/3 cup sugar
This is what it should look like....all bubbly and foamy on the top and milky tan liquid on the bottom. If it doesn't get might want to start over and check your yeast or the temperature of you water because you didn't activate your yeast you killed it. Your water should be warm to the touch but not hot enough to burn you.
Proofed Yeast

1/4 cup oil and 1 teaspoon salt
Your next steps are easy...turn your mixer on, add 1/4 cup of veggie oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Once that is Incorporated add 5 to 6 cups of flour, one cup at a time....I normally add 5 cups let it combine completely and then add the 6th cup as needed to get the dough where it holds it shape and is not sticky to the touch.

This needs a little more flour.
Okay now you knead....I am lazy and drive my Grandpa crazy because I don't do mine by hand. I use my handy dandy stand mixer. But I must warn you....when kneading babysit your mixer don't walk off! I got in the habit of walking off to take care of some other chore and mine fell off the counter one time! Thank goodness it didn't do anymore damage than popping the handle off....but my mixer walks when it is kneading my bread for 10 minutes!
Now this is what it should look like after kneading. Super stretchy, smooth and glossy! Remove your dough from your mixing bowl and place in a large greased bowl (I just spray mine with oil). Cover with a paper towel in a draft free place and let rise for 1 hour! 
Then it should look like this....doubled in size and all pretty! Now you get to punch all that puffiness down and divide this in half. Roll/form it into a loaf shape and place in your greased loaf pans, cover with paper towels and let rise for another 25 to 30 minutes.  
Now if you look closely...they didn't all rise the same....but that's okay, because they will rise one more time as soon as you get them in the oven. During early experiments I thought that what I put in the oven had to look like what I wanted to take out....I quickly found out that I was letting my bread rise too long (which effects the texture of your bread) and all that crown on top won't fit into a toaster to a sandwich bag. So as long as my dough is within an inch of the top of my pan or just above the top of my pan I bake it!!!

Now these guys go into a 350 degree preheated oven for 25 minutes. Please don't be tempted to take them out too soon if the tops are getting to brown for you place a piece of foil over the top and let them finish baking! It is awful cutting into a fresh loaf of bread to find out that the center is all gooey and didn't finish cooking! 
I remove mine from the pans and cool them on wire racks. When I am making for my family I take a stick of butter and rub it all over the tops , yummy. Now let this cool completely before slicing it if you intend on using it for sandwiches. It will slice better. Also note the wire racks that I have used to cool my bread on....I love these racks....when I slice my bread I turn it up side down (that way you don't have to cut through the crusty top and squish your bread) and these rack leave the perfect marks to use a guidelines when you are slicing! It sure does help me keep my slices even and neat! 

Now this is one of those recipes that you can morph into several different things. I will share those with you later...for now I will let you master my white bread!

Homemade White Bread Recipe
2 cups warm water
2 TBSP Dry yeast
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup veggie oil
5-6 cups all purpose flour

Dissolve your yeast and sugar in warm water in a large bowl. Stir until sugar dissolves and then let proof (sit) for 10 minutes. When mixture is foamy add salt and oil. Turn your mixer on low speed and add one cup of flour at a time until your dough is stiff but not sticky. Knead dough for 7 to 10 minutes. Dough should hold it shape and be slightly glossy in appearance. Place dough in a greased bowl and cover lightly with paper towels. Let dough rise for 1 hours in a warm draft free place. When dough has doubled in size, punch down, and divide in two. Form into loaf shape and place in a greased loaf pan. Cover lightly and let rise for an additional 25 to 30 minutes. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool completely on wire racks. Cover to prevent drying out and place in ziploc bags for storage. Can be refrigerated for several day, frozen for longer or eaten immediatly!!!

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