Monday, January 2, 2012

Quick & Easy Homemade Bread...Yum!

Well, welcome to 2012! I can't believe we're here already. This last year went by so fast! I wasted no time getting a jump start on my resolutions for the year. Yesterday, I tackled bread baking in an effort to accomplish resolution #10: Cook/bake more of our own food. (It also accomplishes one of my unofficial goals of actually making stuff I pin on Pinterest!)

As a true carb-addict, I've always loved bread and been very picky about what kinds I buy. It's hard to find an economical bread that isn't made with a bunch of hard to pronounce ingredients. As you know, I'm trying to get back to a more holistic and healthy lifestyle. (Resolution #5: Work toward an organic, homemade lifestyle.) With this in mind, I decided that I would give making our own bread a try. I have to say that for a first attempt, I was more than pleased! In fact, the loaf has been baked for less than 24 hours and it's already half way finished!

I should have called my mom for one of her recipes (I have many childhood memories of my mom baking bread), but I thought I'd go with something super easy my first time out. I chose to use the recipe I found here

Here it is for your convenience: 
1/4 cup milk
5 teaspoons sugar (or 1 1/2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoons salt
5 teaspoons butter (or 1 1/2 tablespoons)
1 package active dry yeast 
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups flour (get unbleached white for your first attempt) --Good tip from original source!
Corn starch or nonstick cooking spray (just to prevent the bread from st
icking to the bowl or pan)

Putting it together: 
-Dissolve yeast in 1 c. warm water. Mix until there are no lumps. (I used my Kitchen Aid to combine all ingredients.
-Add melted butter, sugar, and salt. Mix until thoroughly combined.
-Mix in first 2 cups of flour 1/2 cup at a time.
-Continue adding the rest of the flour 1/4 cup at a time. Mix each 1/4 cup in completely before adding the next 1/4 cup. (I did end up using 3 1/2 cups total in my loaf.)
-Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead dough for 10 minutes.
-Form dough into a ball and place into a bowl sprayed with cooking spray. Place in a warm place and allow to rise for 1 hour. (I set my oven to the "Warm" setting and set it there.)
-After the hour is up, punch down the dough 3-4 times; flatten into a rectangle (1 loaf pan size by 1 1/2 loaf pan size).
-Roll into a log; tuck sides under and place into a greased loaf pan. 
-Allow the dough to rise in the loaf pan for another hour. When it's finished, it will look like this:
Sorry about the quality of the pictures; my camera wasn't charged, so I used my phone. 

-Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes (This was the PERFECT amount of time for my loaf of bread!)
-Remove bread from pan immediately. Allow to cool a bit before cutting.

So...the first attempt at homemade bread was an AMAZING success! For my first time I just used all purpose flour and it was wonderful! I'll be branching out to whole wheat bread flour next. Since this bread recipe is so easy, I'll probably make two or three loaves at the beginning of the week for us. 

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