There is something about freshly baked bread. A certain kind of comfort and contentment. Bread making, for me, is right up there with meringues, fondant and frosting. Love them all, but they intimidate me. Till I realized there was not much to it. Here is a recipe for a simple white bread. Nothing fancy. I followed this simple recipe from About.com. It yields one loaf of soft, moist bread with a nice, thick crust.
You will need: (* – Refer notes)
- Warm water – 3/4 cup
- Active dry yeast – 1 package
- Salt – 1 tsp
- Sugar – 1-1/2 tbsp
- Butter or vegetable shortening – 1 tbsp, melted
- Warm milk – 1/2 cup
- All-purpose flour – 3 cups* (approximately) + extra for kneading the dough
- Egg – 1, for egg wash (optional)
Also good to have,
- Two large bowls
- A thick wooden spoon
- A clean towel
- A clean surface to knead the dough
- A little oil or butter to grease the bowl and pan
- A bread pan
Notes: * You may need less or more, depending on the weather and humidity.
- Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large mixing bowl. Stir till there are no clumps and yeast is fully dissolved.
- Add salt, sugar, butter and milk. Mix well.
- Add 2 cups of the flour. Using a thick wooden spoon, start forming the dough.
- Keep adding more flour, a tablespoon at a time, till the dough is no longer sticky and chases the spoon around the bowl.
- Knead the dough on a clean, floured surface. Keep dusting more flour as you knead, till you form a smooth, non-sticky dough. Knead for at least 10 minutes. (Nice workout for the arms!)
- Lightly brush oil or butter in a clean bowl.
- Place the dough in it, and then turn the dough over, so that the greased surface is on top. (This is done to prevent the dough from drying out while letting it to rise.)
- Cover the bowl with a clean, damp towel. Let it rise in a warm spot for about an hour.
- After the hour is up, the dough should have beautifully risen. Punch the dough down with you hands.
- Place it again on a floured surface and knead.
- Roll out the dough (to about 1/4 inch thickness) in a rough rectangular shape. Take care that the width is no more than the length of your bread pan.
- Roll the dough and fold the edges slightly.
- Place in greased bread pan with the seam side down. Cover the pan with a clean, damp towel. Let it rise in a warm spot for about half an hour.
- Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 375 deg.F.
- The dough should have risen again. Glaze lightly with a beaten egg and form 3 score marks on the dough with a knife.
- Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the top is nicely browned. To tell if the bread is done, knock on top of the loaf. If you hear a hollow sound, the bread is done.
(My loaf is slightly mis-shaped in the middle because of the way I rolled the dough!)
- Remove from pan and let cool for a while.
- Enjoy with jam and a hot cup of coffee.
Baking bread is really a therapeutic affair and the end result is oh-so delicious! No more store-bought preservative-laden loaves! Next time, I am going to try wheat bread. Off to find a good recipe!
Have you tried making bread? How did it go?
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