I love to bake bread. Now I DO NOT bake all that healthy bread youse keep referring to. Like, pshaw!!!
But I love to bake bread, I love to make sweet breads and sweet rolls, and anything/everything that is really bad for your waistline.
My basic bread recipe is straight from the Betty Crocker cookbook, 1969 Edition:
(big grin here... relate this sad circumstance to the Velveteen Rabbit, okay?)
Bread is easy-peasy. Really. The only constraint is rising time, other than that? Easy-peasy. Here's what you need for basic bready goodness:
Dissolve two packages of yeast in 3/4 cup warm water in big mixing bowl.
2 2/3 cup warm water (105 - 115 degrees)
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
3 Tablespoons shortening
5 Cups of Flour (I use bread flour like we've talked about before, but regular flour is fine and dandy.)
Beat until smooth. Mix in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle. (usually 3-4 more cups)
If you have a machine with a dough hook, you can knead the dough right in the bowl with your mixer. I LOVE THIS CHOICE.
|Dough hook is on left, regular 'beater' paddle on right.|
Or less bread. But I digress...
Kneading by hand has the added advantage of releasing pent-up stress and anger. Be tough. The dough is strong. It can handle whatever you dish out, my friends!
If available, small slaves can be pushed into service at any point in time:
Hey. Whatever works. ;)
|After rising... Small aggressive children LOVE THIS STEP!!!|
Divide in two. Roll out one piece on lightly floured surface until it forms a rectangle (kind of) about 18 x 9 inches. Starting at short side, roll up. Tuck ends under and place in a greased 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan.
|Rolled out on table... No flour, no muss, no fuss. This is different from pie crust, right???|
Repeat with other piece of dough. (When dough is rolled out you can have a little fun by buttering the rectangle and adding cinnamon and sugar and chopped nuts if desired. Or raisins. Be creative. Then roll up as directed, fold ends and place in another 9 x 5 x 3 inch greased loaf pan.
OR: you could Mediterranean-ize your loaf by coating the rectangle with olive oil, then sprinkling parmesan and asiago cheese over the whole thing, dot with garlic bits or sprinkle with granulated garlic. Rosemary sprinkled over this mixture is BEYOND WONDERFUL.
Then roll up the same way.
Grease top of loaf. Cover (again the clean towel!!!!) Let rise until double or nearly double. Bake at 425 degrees on LOW OVEN RACK.... The tops of the pans should be in the center of the oven. (mind you, this was before convection ovens... My convection oven bakes it beautifully no matter which rack its on, but if you're using a conventional oven then these directions help loaves to bake/brown evenly.
Bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until loaves sound 'hollow' when tapped. They should be golden brown on top, and light gold on sides.
Remove from oven. Brush loaves with soft butter. The whole loaf, top, sides... This keeps bread soft and deliciously wonderful. Cool on wire racks, but if you don't SNEAK A PIECE TO EAT WHILE WARM THEN THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU!!!!