Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Did It! I Made Bread!

As you might recall, I have recently made it my mission to successfully bake an edible loaf of yeast bread. I am very happy to report that today I succeeded. Go me!

I once again turned to The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, this time for a Basic White Bread recipe. This recipe calls for about 7-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, 2-1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 package active dry yeast, 1-1/2 cups water, 1/2 cup milk, and 3 tablespoons butter.

First I mix 2 cups flour, the sugar, salt and the yeast in a large bowl.

Add the water, milk and butter together in a heat-proof container and heat till the butter has melted. I used the "melt" setting on my microwave to do this step.

Once the butter has melted, allow the mixture to cool down to 120 to 130 degrees.

Once the liquid ingredients have cooled, add them slowly to the dry ingredients. Mix for four minutes with an electric mixer. Now, this would be a good time to have a stand mixer, but alas, this is the best I can do. As the recipe is written for people who own stand mixers, I will have to improvise.

See what I mean? After slowly adding in more flour, the poor hand mixer is struggling, so I switch to a spoon. Then, as more flour is added, I need to switch to using my hand to mix the flour into the dough. Work those muscles, girl. The recipe simply says to add flour until a soft dough forms. What?! How do I know when I have added enough?? Note to self: I really do need to get a good bread cookbook. Well, I keep adding flour until the dough pulls away from the bowl and it isn't that sticky any more.

I turn the dough out on a floured board and begin kneading. I still have about half the flour left, so I knead the flour in as I go. The directions say to knead for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.

I think this is good. I have to say that at this point I am very nervous because I still have about 1-1/2 to 2 cups of flour left over. But, I console myself with the fact that it is a very dry day, so I will hope for the best.

Place in a greased bowl and turn the dough to coat. Cover and place in a warm, draft-free place until the dough has doubled in size.

I stick my fingers in the dough and the indentation remains. It's time to punch down the dough and move forward.

After kneading a few more times, I am ready to form loaves. I first cut the dough in half.

Then I roll one half out into a 7" x 14" rectangle (or oval, as the case may be).

Starting at one short end, tightly roll the dough. Pinch the edges.

Place, seam side down in a greased loaf pan.

I decided to do something special for the second loaf. After rolling out the dough, I brushed melted butter on top.

Cinnamon sugar go on top of that. Roll the loaf up as before.

I'm out of loaf pans, so this will have to do. Now, cover and place both loaves in a warm, draft-free place for an hour.

The dough also rises.

Now the loaves go into a preheated 375 degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes. According to the recipe, you can tell that the bread is done when it makes a dull thudding sound when you tap it.

The bread is done and goes on a rack to cool. I decide to brush the tops with the remaining melted butter.

Besides the fact that I didn't cut my "halves" into equal sizes, they both look beautiful.

I wish you could smell this. Oh, but if you could, you'd probably want some. And then my daughter would be very unhappy.

I, however, am very happy. Today I made bread that won't be mistaken for a door stop. I still want a good bread cookbook, though.

1 comment:

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Beautiful breads.
Now release yourself from the confinements of recipes.
Work the dough.
Feel the dough.
You will be released.