I'll be the first to admit it--I don't bake my own everyday bread. I appreciate the convenience of presliced bread (although am sometimes horrified at some of the ingredient lists. How can high fructose corn syrup be the second ingredient in some brands??) But I do love me a slice of fresh, homemade bread. Once in a while, especially on the weekends, you can find me baking up some sort of yeasty warm treat. And here's a great recipe that anyone can make and anyone can enjoy.
It starts with yeast and sugar.
You'll also need milk, butter, and water, heated to a gently warm temperature.
You've heard me say it before, and I'll say it again. Just a little warmer than your body. Put your finger in and test it out. If it feels slightly warm, then it's right. If it's cool or scorching hot, then it's not.
Pour the warm liquid in with the yeast and sugar and let the yeast come alive.
Mix the liquid and yeast together and then add some of your flour.
Once your first batch of flour is added, add the rest a bit at a time.
You may end up adding more or less flour than the recipe calls for. Here's what the dough looked like after I added the recommended amount of flour. As you can see, it's still pretty sticky and clinging to the bowl. Just add flour a tablespoon or two at a time until the dough is no longer sticky.
Let the mixer beat the heck out of the dough for about 5 minutes. If you don't have a mixer, then knead by hand.
Put the dough into a well-oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Let it rise somewhere warm until doubled in size.
Give your risen dough a good punch.
Gather it up and shape it into a loaf. Dump the dough into a greased loaf pan; cover and let it rise.
Here it is once it's risen.
This dough doesn't even need to go into a preheated oven (although you certainly can bake it in a preheated oven, if it's already on.) I kind of like putting this in a cold oven; it gets to rise a little more as the oven heats up.
Just toss it in the oven and then turn the oven on.
In a short period of time, you'll have a warm loaf of fresh bread to call your own.
Another shot of it.
This bread is good by itself, or topped with butter and jam. It's sturdy enough to make yourself a sandwich or could be a great side dish to a down-home meal. And it was so quick and easy, I might start baking bread on the weekdays! You never know.
Recipe: Easy, Everyday White Bread
1 package yeast
1 1/2 tbsp. white sugar
1 c. water
1/4 c. milk
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. salt
3 1/2 c. flour
In a large mixing bowl, combine yeast and sugar.
Heat water, milk, and butter until butter is mostly melted and liquid is a little warmer than your body temperature. Pour into bowl with yeast and sugar; mix thoroughly.
Pour 2 c. of the flour into the bowl and mix until everything is combined. Sprinkle in salt. Add the remaining flour 1/2 c. at a time, kneading for at least 5 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic.
Put dough into a well-oiled bowl and cover until double in size.
Punch down dough. Shape into loaf and place in an oiled loaf pan.
Place into a cold oven; turn on to 350F. Bake until bread is golden brown and makes a "hollow" sound when tapped (35-40 minutes.)