Monday, June 6, 2011

Sweet (& Simple) White Bread

* This post is dedicated to my good friend J.Lynn, who in fact, believes that making bread is too time consuming, and/or not worth her time. Let me tell you J.Lynn, this bread is so simple and good that if you try it I can guarantee you'll want to make your own bread from here on out! (Call me Molly Mormon, go ahead, I don't care.)  
A few months ago, I decided that it was a good time for me to learn how to make bread.  I really had no idea how much money I could save, or how much more I would like home-made bread, I just wanted to test my ego and see if I could actually make it and have it turn out correctly. My first attempt was a smashing success, and ever since I've made our own bread at home.  

It wasn't only that I was able to release some pent up aggression that had me loving the process. I loved watching the yeast foam while it proofed. I loved that I could save 80% on my bread bill each week (as if all of the other reasons weren't good enough)! And most importantly, I loved the way my house smelled while it baked. The smell had me captivated; it gave my heart a little pitter patter as I recalled memories of our family home smelling the very same way while we had our family home evening lessons. There's just something heart warming about a food that can bring back such vivid memories. 

I would urge every single person on the planet to try making their own bread at home. You guys know me, I'm not about doing things the hard way.  I don't grind my own wheat into flour (although that's a great skill to have), and I like things simple.  I can't guarantee instant success on every loaf (we all have our flops) but I can guarantee that this is the simplest and tastiest recipe you'll find - and it wont hurt that your family will be a little more kind to you too. 

What you'll need: 

  • 2 Cups Warm Water (Not boiling hot, just warm!) 
  • 2/3 Cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Active Dry Yeast (*See note a bottom of post regarding yeast)
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt 
  • 1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 5-6 Cups White or Bread Flour

How it's done: 

1. Preheat your oven to 350*F. Grease two bread pans with cooking spray or butter. 

2. Combine the warm water, sugar, and yeast in a mixing bowl (if you're using your KitchenAid to make the bread, make sure you use the dough hook attachment) mix together gently using a fork.  Allow the yeast to proof for 5 minutes, until it resembles a creamy foam.  (If there is no foam after 5 minutes, your yeast may have been old - this happens from time to time if you're using the Fleischmann's Yeast packets) 

3. Mix salt and oil into the yeast mixture. Mix in the flour slowly, one cup at a time. When the dough becomes less sticky to the touch, you can take it out of your mixing bowl and lay it on a floured surface to kneed for 5 minutes. 

4. Grease another mixing bowl, and grease the outside of the bread dough.  Place the dough in the bowl and cover with a damp towel in a warm place.  (I like to leave mine on the stove while it's pre-heating.)  Leave the dough to rise, roughly double in size, approximately one hour.  

5. Turn dough out onto floured surface and punch down.  Knead for 5 minutes, and then separate into two equal halves. Roll each half flat into a rectangle, roll it up and fold the ends under placing the seams at the bottom.  Set in bread pans, score the tops lightly, and allow to rise another 30 minutes.

6. Bake in oven for 30 minutes. As soon as they are done, turn out onto a cooling rack.  For a soft crust, roll in plastic wrap while still warm.  

Enjoy! It's so good, we usually eat half a loaf as soon as they come out of the oven.  

*When considering what yeast to use, I suggest using the packets of active dry yeast if you don't plan on making bread often. If you think you'll make more bread, more often, it's more cost efficient to purchase a 1 or 5 lb. block of active yeast at your local GFS or Aldis.  I suggest a Fleischmann's brand over the Red Star brand, but it's all according to personal taste.  I've had several other friends who would agree that the Red Star brand tastes and smells much more "yeasty" than the Fleischmann's brand.  It's all to preference.  If you do end up purchasing a block of yeast, make sure you store it in your freezer in it's original bag inside a ziplock.  Light and moisture are the enemy when it comes to yeast!  Happy baking!