Bread Recipe


I have had several friends ask me for my bread recipe, so I’m finally sucking it up and getting it posted as promised. The recipes I’ve based mine on are from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook from 1972.

To start with, here are a few hints about baking bread in the oven (in a loaf pan even! We don’t own a bread machine).

Loaves in a pan:

  1.  To shape loaves: roll the dough into an 18×9 inch rectangle and then roll it up from the short end (for a cinnamon loaf or other loaf with swirl of yummy inside, this is when you put the goodies inside and roll them up). When it’s all rolled up, press the ends to seal and fold the ends under, putting the seam side down in the greased pan.
  2. When baking, stagger the loaf pans on the bottom shelf of the oven so they do not touch each other or the sides of the oven. The top of each pan should be level with or slightly above the middle of the oven.

Round loaves on a baking sheet:

  1. Shape and round the dough into a slightly flattened ball, but don’t tear or pull the dough.
  2. If baking round loaves on a baking sheet, put the sheet on the center rack of the oven. Stagger the loaves on the baking sheet

Applies to both kinds of loaves:

  1. For a soft crush, they say brush the loaf with shortening and cover with a towel for a few minutes, but I’ve heard that putting a pan of water under the loaf pan (on the next shelf down) will help that, but I always forget. My bread recipes all have crispy, hard crusts (which I love), but Nathan would prefer loaves with softer crust for sandwiches.
  2. To test the doneness of your loaves, tap them and listen for a hollow sound.
  3. When they’re done, remove the loaves from the pans right away and cool them on a wire rack.

 

And now for the recipe:

The basic white bread recipe makes 2 loaves (or a bunch of bread bowls for soups):

  • 2 packages of active dry yeast (about 1/2 oz)
  • 3/4 C warm water 105-115F (to activate the yeast)-this part is kind of tricky. Too cold & the yeast doesn’t do anything, too hot & you kill it.
  • 2 2/3 C warm water
  • 1/4 C sugar (to feed the yeast)
  • 1 T salt
  • 3 T shortening (if it looks like crayons, it’s gone bad. Trust me. 😉 )
  • 9-10 C all purpose flour (if you’re using self-rising flour, leave out the salt)
  • soft butter or margarine

Items that will come in handy:

  • a stand mixer or strong arms
  • a mixing bowl to mix all of your ingredients in
  • a big bowl to let the dough rise in (you can also use this bowl to measure out your flour in if you want to make sure you don’t lose count in the middle of the action)
  • two loaf pans or a big cookie sheet
  • a rolling pin
  • a big clean surface to roll out your dough on
  • a clean towel to drape over the rising dough
  • lots of measuring devices
  • a brush for the butter
  • wire cooling racks

So to start, you have to get your water to the right temperature. I do this by heating up a pan of water until it’s boiling then dumping it into a measuring cup and testing the temp with a candy thermometer. If my water is too hot (which is usually is) I pour in small increments of cold water and swirl it with the thermometer until the temp is just right. Then I measure out my 3/4 C for the yeast to get the party started. My recipe says to just throw a bunch of stuff in once the yeast is dissolved, but I prefer to dissolve the yeast then dump in the sugar and let the yeast proof (double in size) then dump in the other stuff. So let’s do that.

Once your yeast is proofed, put the rest of the water, salt, shortening & 5 cups of flour in your bowl (this means everything but half the flour is all mixed together. Pretty easy so far, yes?) Now I’m going to do something that may annoy some folks, but I have a stand mixer and I’m lazy. You don’t have to have a stand mixer, but since I’ve only been baking bread since I got one (a gift from my mom & boyfriend, now hubby) and I love it, I don’t know how to tell you to mix this stuff without it. I guess knead it and mix it by hand or with a hand mixer. Or save up and buy a stand mixer.

So, you have your fancy stand mixer, and you turn it on low with the dough hook attached (and the arm locked down. Yes I have forgotten that) and the little plastic guard thingie on to keep the flour from going everywhere (which it will anyway, but the guard helps a bit). As things mix up better, you can turn it up a bit, but this isn’t a race, so high is not our goal. Slowly add more flour to make the dough easy to handle (i.e. not a sticky pile of goop). You may need to stop the mixer and pull the dough off the hook as it tries to creep up into the mixing mechanism and get grody & greasy. If you miss that and it gets way up there, just pull that little bit off and compost it. Dough also can clean out nasty bits that may have gotten up there, so your mixer may end the day cleaner, but I don’t recommend this as a regular cleaning method.

Apparently, Betty Crocker is pretty hard core and she suggests you turn the dough by hand onto a lightly floured board and knead it until its “smooth & elastic” which takes her about 10 minutes. I do all of that in my mixer while I grease a bowl which is our next step. Gather up your dough and dump it into the greased bowl. Swirl it around to get the bottom of the dough ball greased, then flip the dough over so the other size can get greased up too. Cover it with the towel and let it rise in a warm place until double (which takes about an hour). A hint for finding a warm place, I preheat our oven to the lowest setting (right around 170 or 200 F, I think) then I turn it off and put the bread in there to rise. You’ll know the dough is ready when an impression remains.

Now my favorite part, punch the dough down (yes, you can actually punch it with your fist. It’s fun!) Divide the dough in half and roll out each half to an 18×9 inch loaf. Then karate chop the short sides (those are the sides where you see the rolling, smooshing them together to get a good seal. Fold those ends under and put the whole thing into a greased loaf pan. I like to grease the outside of the bread too, which is good because that’s how Betty rolls as well. Now you have to wait another hour while it rises againg (also to about double).

Take the loaves out of the oven while you preheat it (or don’t. I sometimes preheat them with it if I’m feeling like it) to 425F. Make sure your loaves are good and centered, try out that pan of water thing if you want a soft crust (I can’t vouch for it. That technique is hearsay to me since I haven’t tried it yet) and make sure nobody’s touching (like you and your little brother in the back of the car on a long road trip to granma’s). Bake the loaves for 30-35 minutes until a deep golden brown and they make a hollow sound when you tap them (pretend you’re politely knocking at the door of a stranger). When they’re done, get them out of that pan asap and onto a cooling rack and be sure to brush them down with more butter (did I give the impression this was a healthy recipe?)

If you’re like me, you can’t wait until they’re cool, so dive in and be ready to burn the crap out of your mouth, but it’s oh so worth it to eat the steamy hot center out of a fresh piece of homemade bread. Besides, it’s been taunting you for a good 3 hours with it’s yeasty smells wafting throughout the house. Just don’t sue me when you sear the taste-buds off your tongue.

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~ by rebeccaclaire on March 14, 2009.

2 Responses to “Bread Recipe”

  1. […] Bread Recipe & Bread Recipe #2. […]

  2. […] Helpful hints from Bread Recipe #1 […]

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