Monday, July 19, 2010

Heavenly Homemade Bread

I can’t remember the last time I bought a loaf of regular white bread from the grocery store.  Making homemade bread is easy and satisfying.  The smell of baking breading filling the air is incredible. It’s worth the time and effort . . . and, really, it’s not all that difficult.Photo0998
This is a recipe I’ve used without fail.  It makes a nice, soft sandwich bread.  Make sure you make two loaves because one will be gone before it’s had time to cool . . . so, so good!

Soft White Bread

  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp dry yeast
  • 6 cups all-purpose or bread flour (approximately)
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
What to do
1.  Grease two 9" x 5" loaf pans and set them aside.

2.  Combine hot water and cool milk, add yeast and sugar and allow yeast to bloom.  While you wait, whisk the flour and salt together.
3.  Once yeast has bloomed, add in a couple cups of the flour/salt mixture, the eggs, and the butter, and stir to combine.  Gradually add in more flour until the dough is stiff (or pulls away from the sides of the bowl if you're using a stand mixer).
4.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Note: I skip this step . . . I use the dough hook on my mixer to knead the dough until it’s smooth and elastic.  About five minutes.

5.  Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow the dough to rise until doubled in bulk.
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6.  Punch dough down, re-shape into a ball, and place back in bowl, covered, to rise again until nearly doubled in size.

7.  Punch dough down and divide into two pieces.  Shape into balls and let them rest for a few minutes to allow the gluten to relax.

8.  Press each ball down into an oblong shape about the length of your baking pan and then roll tightly into a small baguette shape and seal the edges together.  Fold the ends under a bit and place in the pan, seam side down.  Repeat with the other ball of dough.
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9.  Cover the pans with a lightly greased piece of foil or plastic wrap, or with parchment or wax paper (you don't want it to stick) and allow the dough to rise until it's well above the edge of the pan (a good inch or so).

10.  While the dough is rising, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

11.  Bake the loaves about 30 minutes or so, until golden brown.  Tap the bottom of a loaf if you're not sure - if it sounds hollow, the bread is done.  If it doesn't, bake another 5-10 minutes.
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12.  When the bread comes out, allow to cool at least half an hour before slicing.  If you want a soft crust, brush the tops of the loaves with melted butter and cover for half an hour while cooling.  The butter will soak in and keep the crust from becoming crispy.  (It may look a little wrinkly in the process.)

13.  A loaf will keep, wrapped with plastic, for several days (if you don't eat it all the first day.)  If you won't be eating both loaves right away, wrap one snugly with plastic and then with foil and freeze it until needed.

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