Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bread Blog

First of all let me say: @#$%&*!%$**&!!!! Freakin' cut and paste failure., where was I?

My last post I threw a few four letter words at you and one of them was B-A-K-E

I had a notion to make cookies or scones, but I've been baking them a lot at the Cookie Cab I decided to do something I haven't done in a while: Bread

The ol' fashioned way - no bread machine.
I didn't get the idea to take any pictures until I was halfway through the process, but I think you'll get the idea.

Simple white bread is easy - at least I think so.

All you need is:

1 package of dry active yeast

2 tablespoons of sugar

1/4 cup of warm (not hot) water

Add the yeast and sugar into a small bowl or glass and add the warm water. Set it aside and watch the yeast start to do it's magic.

It kind of looks like a glass of Guinness doesn't it? All that foamy, frothy stuff on the top tells you that the yeast is ALIVE!

Next add 2 cups of warm milk and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil or butter that's been melted and cooled (I like butter for the taste) to a large bowl.

Add the yeast mixture and stir it up a little.

Measure out 6 cup of flour. I like to mix it ahead because I will always forget to count how much I've added in so it helps me to do it ahead of time.

Slowly add the flour cup by cup to the yeast/milk mixture.

It will start to get sticky and somewhat elastic looking. I will keep adding the flour until it's firm enough to pick up with my hands without being too stringy.

On a board or counter, generously spread flour down to cover - this is where you will be kneading the bread and it keeps it from sticking to the counter. Don't be too shy with the flour. I usually use about 1/4 - 1/2 cup.

Flour up your hands, grab that sticky ball of dough and plop it on to the floured surface.

Now comes the fun part. Kneading

This is kind of therapeutic for me and once you get used to it, it can become very rhythmic. Maybe next time I'll ask Margie to take a little video of the action. I'm sure you can find it on YouTube somewhere if you are really curious!

What you want to do is get the air out of the dough and mix in the ingredients. Grab the part of the blob that is furthest away from you and pull it up over the blob - then mash it down with the heel of your hand. Spin the blob around a little and do the same thing. You basically repeat this process for about 10 - 15 minutes.

If you need to add more flour so that the blob isn't sticky that is fine. Just add a little at a time.

When you are finished, the sticky gooey blob should feel smooth and almost velvety.

Grease a large bowl with butter and then place the blob into the bowl. Flip it over so that the greasy part is on the top.

Cover the bowl and blob with a moist towel and put it in a warm place to let rise. The temp in your house will really make a difference in how fast the dough will rise. I usually put my oven on warm and then put the dough on the stove top.

You will know when the dough has risen enough when it is about 1 in above the top of the bowl.

You will know it's ready if you take two fingers and poke the top of the dough. Your fingerprints should remain.
Next, with a sharp knife - cut the blob into two smaller blobs. You will be making 2 loaves of bread.
I decided to make one plain and one cinnamon swirl. I added 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon. You spread it on top of the dough and starting and the shortest end, roll up into a spiral. Put the loaf seam side down into a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
Set the two loaves aside to let them rise. The higher they rise the fluffier your bread will be. I like a denser bread to I don't let it rise too much. Into the oven they go! Temp is at 375f for 30 - 35 minutes or until golden brown.
Mmmmmmmmm, fresh from the oven! The smell is wonderful!
There you have it! Two fresh loaves of bread with no preservatives, no chemicals, no crap and the ingredients for 2 loaves will cost you less than it will to buy 1 loaf at the store.

Amazing eh?

You can slice them up and freeze them so that they will last longer if you want.

Next time I will add more cinnamon and sugar to the cinnamon swirl loaf. It wasn't quite cinnamony enough for me - but it makes for a great french toast!

Bon appetite!

1 comment:

neetzy said...

Brilliant minds think alike! Doug and Delaney made bread on Friday. It was a snow day (again). We used to always make bread on snow days way back when we had snow in the early nineties. This winter is shaping up to that!

I've had fresh bread for breakfast two days in a row. It is wonderful!