There are times in life, where simple is best. There is little that can beat a glass of milk with a just made chocolate chip cookie. The first asparagus of the season, grilled as is, on the BBQ. A slice of homemade bread, warm from the oven, slathered with good butter.
As the title says, this is a basic recipe – excellent for any novice baker. If you’ve never made bread before, you really should try it. What a fab activity for a chilly winter afternoon, only requiring bits of your time here and there. Plan it just right and have it ready to serve alongside your evening winter meal. Soup…? Stew…? Casserole…? Mmm mmm. You’ll knock the socks off everyone at the table!
The difference to store bought, like most things, is incredible. It just tastes FRESH. AND… you know exactly what’s in it. If it does manage to last more than 2 days… toast it for a sandwich. Use it for French toast. If there’s any still left…. make bread crumbs. Make Panko bread crumbs. Make like an Italian and don’t waste any of it. Legend has it that for each crumb wasted, it’s a tear in your after-life.
To stay a step ahead of you, I’ve included a link for the Panko. *Note: For some reason it’s not included in the link – Panko crumbs should be white. DO not use the crusts – use them for regular bread crumbs.
Bread. The staff of life. Been around for centuries, with every culture having their versions. From Middle Eastern flat bread to Eastern European rye to Italian ciabatta – the varieties of what you can do with flour, yeast and salt are seemingly endless. Amazing. Delicious.
If you have a stand mixer to do some of the work… it will merely save you some time. (To be honest, I find it takes some of the fun out of it.) You’ll still need to do the final bit of kneading by hand, to really bring the dough together. At times, I use a mixer…. but, I still prefer making dough by hand. You literally get to know the feel of the dough – which, if you’ve experienced it you know, is quite important when making bread.
Like many things in life, there are things in the kitchen that you just need to experience. Making a basic loaf of bread is one of them. I once had a conversation with a gentleman at a party, where I shared my theory that heaven must smell like fresh baked bread. I immediately felt a little foolish, sharing something this, uh… quirky, with a stranger…. but not to worry. He nodded in agreement, smiled and said he quite liked the idea. Remember. Don’t waste those crumbs.
Basic White Bread
This recipe is from KitchenAid, one of the most trusted names in the kitchen. I’ve included the link where I found the recipe because it not only has that useful tool of sizing the recipe up or down, there’s also a lot of tips & tricks in the many reviews – some of from first time bread bakers! If you want to feel inspired, read these first. ps Even if it’s your first time, go all in and make 2 loaves.
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons butter
2 (1/4 ounce) packages dry active yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (105F to 115F)
5 – 6 cups all-purpose flour
Dissolve yeast in warm water in warmed mixer bowl. Add lukewarm milk mixture and 4 1/2 cups flour.
speed 2 for 2 minutes longer, or until dough is smooth and elastic. Dough will be slightly sticky to the touch.
Dissolve yeast in warm water in separate measuring cup or other container. In a large deep bowl add the 4 1/2 cups flour making a well in the centre. Into the well, add the milk mixture and the proofed yeast. Using a sturdy wooden spoon start drawing in the flour a little at a time – much like making pasta. The dough will come together easier – which is nice when you’re mixing by hand.. Once combined, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter, with the extra flour at hand. Knead for 8 – 10 minutes (put some good music on first…) until the dough comes together.
Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease the top (I generally use the bowl I made the dough in, after a quick clean to remove any bits stuck to the sides…) Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place free from draft until doubled in bulk, about an hour. I find the oven with just the light turned on works really well.Punch dough down (this just means to knock the air out of it) and divide in half. Shape each half into a loaf, tucking the ends under and place in a greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan. They don’t have to be perfect. In fact… you don’t want them to look perfect… Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
If mixing the dough by hand… use a sturdy wooden spoon for the job!
Final knead – by hand. Once you master this, you’ll always know when your dough is ready. Did I mention I prefer making dough by hand…? Don’t let not having a stand mixer deter you. Honestly!
1st rise. Set a timer. Go do something else.
About an hour later…
After the 2nd rise – ready for the oven!
How beautiful is this? Just WAIT until you taste it!! Everyone in the house will come running for a little slice of heaven. ps No actual photos once it was cut into… we were too busy eating!!