Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Is there anything better than the smell of baking bread?
Maybe the smell of freshly folded laundry that someone else washed and folded...and is about to put away for you.
I've been a bread making lady lately. I'm not advocating bread making for everyone...but if you've wanted to know how, then hopefully this post will help. Not because I know how to do it the best way...but more so, because if my bread turns out fine (and I barely follow the recipe) then yours can be great too! Let my bread making laziness inspire you!
As a part of the ongoing saga to remove weird chemicals out of our diets in this house, I started trying to find a bread at the store that did not have high fructose corn syrup in it or any hydrogenated oils (or partially hydrogenated oils).
I had no such luck.
So, I decided I should learn how to make bread. Why not?
Most of that junk in store bought bread is there because crappy ingredients are cheaper to use than the real stuff...and because the bread company needs that bread to last as long as possible before going bad.
Making it myself means I can use better ingredients minus the chemicals and other strange words I don't understand or can't pronounce.
I'm not a bread making expert...but I've found you don't have to be an expert. Freshly baked bread is good no matter how it looks.
I got the recipe I use out of this book:
I love this book! I will sit and look at it for hours. So will Aaron.
I have made better breads before, but they contained a lot of ingredients (and honey...lots of it, which can get expensive).
I like this recipe because it only uses a few ingredients. That helps when making a bunch of loaves per week.
I usually bake 6 loaves of bread every Monday. Then, I wrap them in foil, stick them in a freezer bag and put them in the freezer. When we want bread, I grab a loaf, leave it in the foil and put it in the oven for about 20 minutes. It's like having freshly baked bread right out of the oven every time. Yum! I no longer buy bread from the store. We use this bread for sandwiches, toast and with our dinner. The kids eat jelly bread for snacks pretty often around here.
I'm going to give you Carla's recipe word for word, and then tell you what I actually do. That way, you recipe rule followers can do what she says, and you recipe renegades can do whatever you want.
Virginia's White Bread
Mix 2.5 cups liquid, 3 T sugar, 1 T salt, 2 T shortening. Dissolve 2 envelopes yeast in 1/4 c. lukewarm water and add to other ingredients. Mix with spoon, then by hand 7 cups flour. Turn dough on a floured board and let rest for 10 minutes. Knead until smooth and elastic...about 8-10 minutes. Grease bread dough and put in a large bowl or pan. Cover with a cloth and let rise in a warm place out of drafts until doubled in bulk.
Once it's doubled in size, punch and fold it into a firm ball and let rise again until almost doubled in size. Divide into 2 pieces. Let dough rest on floured table 10 minutes. Shape into loaves. Put in pans. Grease. Let rise to just above top of loaf pans. Bake at 425 for 25-30 minutes. Turn out on racks to cool.
My Way...Virginia's White Bread that I Sometimes turn into Sorta Wheat Bread
Mix 2.5 cups liquid (I use 1 cup milk, 1.5 cups water), 3 T sugar, 1 T salt, 2 T shortening (I use smart balance oil). Stir. Put 1/4 cup lukewarm water in measuring cup. Add 2 packets of yeast. Stir until dissolved. Mix in 7 cups flour (I do three wheat, four white sometimes but mainly make it with white flour.) Mix the dough with a spoon, then by hand. Take your rings off...don't be scared...jump in there and get dirty.
Turn dough on a floured dough and let rest for 10 minutes. (I always need a rest too, so this part is nice. I never put the dough on a floured board. I just mix it up and then leave it in the bowl for 10 minutes. My dough naps in the bowl, not on a board.) Knead until smooth and elastic...about 8-10 minutes. (Are you kidding? I never do this either. I'm way too big of a wimp. I just knead it until my arms go a little numb and then stop.) Grease bread dough and put in a large bowl or pan. (I don't do that either. I just leave it in the bowl). Cover with a cloth and let rise in a warm place out of drafts until doubled in bulk.
Once it's doubled in size, punch and fold it into a firm ball. (I don't know what punch means...so I just jack with the dough a while. I hold it and squish it and squeeze it.)
Then, I tear it into two pieces, stick it in two greased bread pans (mine are glass Pyrex), re-cover them with a towel and let them rise for the second time.
Then I cook the bread on 420 or so until light brown on top (or dark brown if I get to talking to girls sitting around the table).
You must eat some right out of the oven. It's a rule.
See...I don't hardly follow the rules (well, I never break the "eat the bread right out of the oven rule") and our bread turns out fine. Imagine what it would taste like if you actually followed the rules and kneaded the bread forever like she suggests and let it rise three times instead of two. I'm also imagining what your forearms would look like.
If you make bread, and want to post your recipe with instructions here, I'd love that! But even better...if you make bread and want to write a post on your own blog, I'd love to link to it. For those of you who love your bread machine and use it often, what kind do you have?
Here's another bread making post from this blog with helpful ideas in the comment section.
(I'll be your stinkin' it to the man friend, Jamie. That's my new hobby.)
I love Mandi. She's the real deal.