Thursday, March 28, 2013

Make Ahead Soft White Bread

There's nothing better than fresh bread.  

Sometimes I want to get a jump on things and bake bread in the morning.  But who's got time for that?  I know I don't want to get up a 0'dark:30 even if it mean hot, fresh bread start the day with.

Did you know that the prefered method for making bread is a slow, cold rise?  The bread is better textured and has much more flavor.  

Make the dough as normal and take it out in the morning to rise.  Bake it and you have lovely loaves of bread and you'll be a hero to your family!

Soft White Bread (makes 2 loaves)

1 Cup Hot Water
½ Cup Milk 
2 Tablespoons Sugar
2 Teaspoons Dry Yeast
2 Teaspoons Salt
Approximately 6 Cups All-Purpose Or Bread Flour
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Softened
2 Eggs

Combine hot water and cool milk.  Mixture should be just warm to the touch.  Add sugar and yeast and allow yeast to proof - about 15 minutes.

In a separate bowl, mix together the salt and 3 cups of the flour.

Add eggs and butter to yeast and mix well.  Add two cups of the flour/salt blend and mix well.  

Add the rest of the flour/salt mixture (and then switch to the dough hook attachment if using the stand mixer), and then keep adding the remaining 3 cups of flour, about half a cup at a time, until the mixture forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead for about 10 minutes, or until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.  

Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel.  Allow the dough to rise about 30 minutes.  

Then put plastic wrap over the bowl and put the bowl in the refrigerator.

Whenever you're ready to bake the bread, remove the dough from the refrigerator.  Press out any large air pockets.  

Shape into balls, place in a warm (air-temperature) bowl and allow the dough to come to room temperature.

Lightly grease your two loaf pans.

Press each ball down into an oblong shape about the length of your baking pan, then roll tightly into a log and pinch the edges together tightly to seal.  Fold the ends under and place the dough in a loaf pan, seam side down. 

Cover the pans with a lightly oiled piece of foil or plastic wrap and allow to rise again.  When the dough is about level with the edge of the pan, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

When the dough has risen about an inch above the pan, it’s ready.  Remove the foil/plastic wrap and place on a rack in the center of the oven.  Bake about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.  

To check, turn out one of the loaves and tap the bottom - if it sounds hollow, it’s done.  If it’s not done, bake another ten minutes or so and tap again.

When the bread comes out, remove from the pans and allow to cool before slicing.  


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