Saturday, March 6, 2010

White Bread

I started making homemade bread this past fall because I thought it'd be fun, and for the most part, I was right! Eating warm bread out of the oven is one of the most satisfying experiences I've had with cooking. This is just the recipe from the Home and Gardens cookbook, but I love it and it's not very difficult to make. Because this bread turned out so well, I ventured into making a few more varieties of bread, soon to be posted on this here blog.

5 3/4 - 6 1/4 c. flour (I've been using bread flour lately)
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
2 1/4 c. milk or buttermilk (I use milk)
2 Tbl. sugar
1 Tbl. butter, margarine, or shortening (I use butter)
1 1/2 tsp. salt

1. In a large mixing bowl combine 2 1/2 c. of the flour and yeast; set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, heat and stir milk, sugar, butter and salt until warm (120 - 130-degrees) and butter almost melts.
3. Add milk mixture to flour mixture. Beat with an electric mixture (if using a stand mixer, use dough hook) on for 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl. Beat on high for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in remaining flour - as much as you can.
4. Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface.
5. Knead dough until it's a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (6 - 8 minutes). Shape dough into a ball and place into a lightly greased bowl, turning to grease surface of dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place (I usually put it in the oven with a bowl of hot water on the rack below) until double in size, 45 - 60 minutes.
6. Punch dough down, turn dough out on lightly floured surface, divide in half. Cover, let rest 10 minutes.
7. Grease two 8"x4"x2" loaf pans.
8. Shape each dough half into a loaf by patting or rolling.
-patting: gently pat or pinch dough into a loaf shape, tucking edges underneath
-rolling: roll dough into a 12"x8" rectangle
9. Tightly roll up, starting from a short side, sealing the seam with fingertips.
10. Placed dough halves in pans, seam sides down. Cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly double in size, about 30 minutes.
11. Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Back for 35 - 40 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when lightly tapped.
12. Immediately remove bread from pans, cool completely on wire racks.

*To store in freezer, tightly wrap in plastic wrap, place in two gallon zip-lock bags. Breads are freezable for 3 months.

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