Good morning all....
Have you even wished you could make homemade bread?
Have you yearned for the wonderful smell of fresh bread coming from your kitchen?
Have you envied other's ability to make bread, but felt VERY intimated by the process?
Well, today I hope to change all that...because
You can make homemade bread,
and I will teach you how!
If you can make a batch of cookies, you can certainly make homemade bread for your family!
I find bread to be one of the most satisfying things to make. It always leaves me with a sense of wonder, appreciation and yes, it makes me proud!
Let's start with a few basic things you need to know:
1. Always use bread flour when making your bread. A recipe may call for all purpose flour - don't listen! The results will be far superior if you use bread flour.
2. Pay attention to the temperature of your wet ingredients!
Most bread making failures are caused by liquids that are too hot, which will kill your yeast. Grab a candy or other cooking thermometer and check the temperature of your liquid once you have heated it...the temp should be no more than 110-120 degrees. To be on the safe side, I usually use liquids in the 110 to 115 degree range.
3. Some may argue with my third point, but I ALWAYS mix the yeast directly into the flour. Measure out about 1/3 of your flour and whisk your yeast into that...then add your liquid and other ingredients. This serves two purposes....no more proofing of your yeast in a small bowl and wondering if it is ready and there is less chance of killing your yeast when you add the hot liquids.
My daughter-in-law was having such trouble making bread. It would never rise correctly and it would end up hard as a rock. When they were living with us last year, I made a point of showing her this method, and now, she's a real pro!
Remember those basics, and you should be able to sail right through any recipe with great results.
So, try your hand at my easy
Whole Wheat Bread
3 1/2 c bread flour
2 1/2 c whole wheat flour
2 T active dry yeast
1/2 t salt
1 c water
1 c milk
1/4 c honey
3 T brown sugar
3 T butter, melted
I also added 1/2 cup of ground flax seed to my dry ingredients. I love the texture it gives the bread, but it is an option ingredient. If you don't have flax seed, you could try 1/2 c of wheat germ instead.
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of your bread flour and 1 1/2 c of the whole wheat flour. Sprinkle in the salt and yeast, and whisk or stir the mixture to combine.
Heat your milk, water, butter, honey and brown sugar over low heat in a small saucepan. You can also use a glass measuring cup and microwave for one minute or so. As mentioned earlier...CHECK the temp of your liquid before adding it to your dry ingredients.
Once your liquid is the correct temperature, stir it into the flour mixture. Mix well with a heavy plastic or wooden spoon. Add the eggs and beat well. No need to use a mixer. Once these ingredients are well combined, you will start adding the remainder of your flour. You may or may not use all the flour called for. Start by adding the whole wheat and stir and add the bread flour until you have a dough that isn't wet or sticky.
Now you are ready to knead the dough.
Most recipes say something like 'knead for 8-10 minutes', but I find that simply isn't necessary. I knead until I have incorporated enough flour to keep the dough from being sticky...maybe 5 minutes at the most. I knead the dough, turning and flouring as I go, until it forms a nice mound and is firm to the touch, but not rock hard.
While I am kneading, I like to run some warm water into the bowl I used to mix my dough. The water will soften any sticky mess and it will heat up the bowl too. Once I have finished kneading the dough, I dump the water from the bowl, scrape out any residue left in the bowl, wipe it down with a paper towel so it is clean, and then dry it quickly. With a cooking spray, I lightly grease the bowl and then place my kneaded dough into the warm bowl. Cover with a clean towel and let it rise in a warm, not hot, place. The yeast needs time to develop, so don't try to rush the rising process by placing the dough in a warm oven. Doing so will result in a fast rise, but the bread may very well 'deflate' once you bake it, and you'll end up with an edible, but very dense loaf of bread that will dry out very quickly.
Let your bread double in size while you are off tending to some primitive decorating!
Punch down the dough and return to your cleaned work surface.
Add a small amount of flour to your work surface and place your dough on it. Divide dough into three equal sizes balls.
Shape each ball into a loaf size by rolling the dough into a log and tucking the ends under. Place each loaf into a lightly greased pan (I again used cooking spray) and cover once again.
Let rise until nearly doubled in size.
Heat your oven to 350 degrees and place your loaves in. Bake approximately 30-40 minutes or until they are golden brown on top. Tap on the top of the loaf...if it sounds hollow, it is done!
Immediately remove your bread from the pans and place them on a wire rack to cool. I set mine on their sides so as not to 'squish' the cooling bread.
Slice with a bread knife, slather with butter and enjoy your homemade bread!
This recipe makes 3 loaves.
Now remember, this wonderful homemade bread doesn't have all the preservatives that store-bought bread has, so it won't last forever on your counter. If you won't be finishing it up in 3-4 days, simply wrap your completely cooled loaves first in a large plastic bag, remove any air, and then wrap in foil. Place in your freezer. You can pull it out to enjoy a loaf next week!
Psst...homemade bread makes THE best toast. I have to say though...
I hereby deny any responsibility for you eating way too much bread. One of the reasons I try not to make it all the time is that we will EAT it! It is so much better than the store-bought stuff!
Next week I will share an artisan bread recipe with you. I will explain the differences in the doughs to you, and give you tips on how to create a yummy and crusty loaf like you would purchase in a bakery....for a fraction of the cost.
But He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.