Friday, July 5, 2013

Homemade Bread!

Looooong ago, I bought this book through some book club.  







Think the recipe has been used enough?     yup  that is about 30 some years worth of yeast and flour spills on the book page.  That's how we find the best recipes in old cook books, right? 





that's because it makes this:    



the best homemade bread recipe EVER   (in my opinion!)     and yes, it does make 'superlative toast'

a few things I do differently

milk:   I use water and dump in a bunch of powdered milk.   milk is good for a bread recipe as it adds to the softness
sugar:  you have to have some sweetener for the yeast to grow.  But you can change the sugar to 1 T of sugar, or just put about a T of honey in. 
salt:   I use 1 t coarse sea salt
lard:  really?   why use lard when you can use BUTTER!! 
yeast :  stays the same but from the jar it is 4.5 teaspoons.   This is a good recipe because you 'proof'  your yeast first.  Put it in a bowl or cup with 1/2 c water.  use water that has been boiled or distilled or whatever because if there is no chlorine in the water, it's better.  sprinkle a small pinch of sugar with the yeast.  If it doesn't grow, it's too old. Sometimes a person stores yeast and it doesn't work anymore.  I usually have a new pkt in the refrigerator just in case because nothing is more frustrating than putting work into bread and having it not rise. 
make sure your milk/butter mixture is lukewarm or cooler when you add it to the yeast or you will kill the yeast.  (that yeast is a picky thing and easy to knock off it's path when you're starting out the recipe) 
eggs  is one of the reasons this bread is soft and rises high   I add them after I put a c of flour in so the cold eggs don't affect the yeast  (yup--that yeast again!)  The fast rise yeast isn't as good, in my opinion, because it seems to make a tougher loaf of bread.  
flour:  I like the 'better for bread'  flour  but often add 1 c of whole wheat flour just to feel more healthy.   bread flour has a higher gluten content (I think)   which helps the bread somehow.  how I don't know but it does make a better homemade bread and seems to rise a bit faster. I could google that but don't feel like it. ;-)

When you beat the batter for 2 minutes it helps the bread  something about gluten and kneading  I read it once upon a time,  so beating the batter and letting it 'rest'  for ten minutes also is in a great bread recipe. 
I add the flour after the 2 minute beating, (sounds like something from a different kind of book huh?)   a bit at a time but not all of the flour.  Then it rests right in the bowl of my mixer for those 10 minutes.  I get a flour sack towel (or any other very clean kitchen towel), get it wet with hot water, wring the water out of the towel, and drape it over the entire mixer and bowl for those ten minutes. 

I knead the bread in the mixer bowl using the dough hook.  (this is my third mixer in 30 years.  They all lived a good long life, one is in another friend's kitchen now because I wanted this larger mixer and it's great for bread especially!)  

then let it rise twice.  I bake it at 350 degrees and when it's starting to look golden, (at about 20-25 minutes_ I put a large piece of foil over the baking bread (loose, just lay it on top of the bread)
if you use glass pans, you can see the crust color.  When it looks good, check the bread by rapping on the top with your knuckle.  It sounds hollow.  (kind of sort of... you get good at this after a while)  

Enjoy!   It's wonderful toast, but if you can't eat two loaves, it's a great bread to share with friends.  Who doesn't like a loaf of homemade bread?   








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