Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bread Makin'

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.


Jamie's recipe.
(I'll be your stinkin' it to the man friend, Jamie. That's my new hobby.)

Mandi's recipe.
I love Mandi. She's the real deal.


Anonymous said...

I too just jumped into the bread making world, but all the kneading scared me so I bought a bread machine. Ultimate Breadman Plus. Didn't do any research, it was the only one on the shelf at Target. When I got home I read the reviews, most were pretty good. So far I really like it and it's super easy. It take me less than a minute to get the bread going. Only drawback is that it's loud during the kneading cycle, but so worth it when you pull out a warm loaf.

Jamie R. said...

here's my bread makin' post :)


Hi. My name is Alanna. said...

Have you ever tried it with white wheat flour? I've found that white wheat flour is really good. They have it at Krogers. It's great in chocolate chip cookies - gives them a terrific texture and chewiness that is really good.

Loy said...

I love to bake but haven't been able to in the last few months. Reading your blog has inspired me to start bakin' some goodies. Pumpkin and banana bread sound so yummy right now.

mandi said...

my bread making post was one of my very first...ah, memories...


Diane said...

I used to dabble in bread making, but I could never be consistent with it because of it being so time consuming and labor intensive. Plus, I was always a little disappointed with the results, so that was another con to the whole thing. THEN I checked out from the library Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg. You mix the dough in a bowl (each batch yields 3-4 loaves, depending), let it rise once, and then put it in the fridge for whenever you're ready to bake some (or all) of it for a fresh, hot loaf (for up to two weeks). No kneading, no punching, no rising 10 times before you get to bake it. This book made my day. It has everything from crusty, european style round loaves to white, american style soft bread, to wheat bread, to pizza crust to desserts... everything.

I just learned the other day that there is a new book by him called Healthy Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Revolution Continues with Whole Grains, Fruits, and Vegetables. I'm excited to explore this one as well!

Rachel said...

I use this recipe: http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/brdm_honeywheatbread.htm

I generally make it in the bread machine, but I have made it in the kitchen aid (for kneading) and in loaf pans. It seems to do better in the machine for me, though. I love it because it is all whole wheat flour, but it is light and soft.

I do make rolls with half wheat and half white. But I can't bring myself to do that for bread, my poor husband and children! :)

Hendrick Family said...

That's the recipe I use every once in awhile. I got it from Lynsey. When I started making six loaves a week I had to stop with the honey. It got too expensive.

I'd LOVE to go back to using only wheat flour for the bread, but without the honey mine is yuck.

If any of you know of a good wheat recipe without using a lot of honey, I'd love to have it!


Rachel said...

Have you tried getting honey at Sam's? I use the Sam's honey (it isn't raw or local but it's cheap) for baking. I use the real stuff--local (made just a couple miles from my house!) and raw--for sweetening tea, oatmeal, and stuff that isn't baked. I had a hard time with the expense before I found it so cheap there.

Hendrick Family said...

Yay! I will try that! I was going to go to Sams and get Maple Syrup anyway. I've heard it's cheap there.

Thanks! Can't wait to make that yummy honey bread again.