Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Everyday Bread

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Everyday wheat bread
I have been making our bread for about 4 years now.  I don't yet make our bagels or english muffins or all of our hamburger buns, just the stuff for our daily bread needs.  I usually make a batch a week, sometimes a bit more frequently, sometimes less, but my guess is it is weekly on average.  That works out to about 208 times now.  What I love about bread making is despite all of those times I am no where near being an expert.  I learn new things constantly, my recipe evolves over time, and my tastes in what I think is a good bread have also changed.  I recommend finding a basic bread recipe that you feel confident with and then from there change things around and see what happens.
Wheat sandwich bread

The flour you use is key.  It is important that you use high quality bread flour when it is called for when making yeast breads.  You will see recipes for sweeter, egg based, lighter dough that use all-purpose flour, but for basic bread that will not work.  After a lot of trial and error, I will only use King Arthur flours for my baking needs, including for my bread.  I cannot recommend their products highly enough.  This one key ingredient really will make all the difference in your end results.  I am a subscriber to their website and when they have a free shipping sale going on that is when I will order quite a bit of flour in bulk.  Otherwise I find what I need at our local grocery store (Safeway and Fred Meyers carry it) without any trouble.

Sandwich Bread


Michelle K.
In the winter months when my house is typically quite cool, I will start my oven on preheat just to get the heating element to kick in, perhaps 30 -60 seconds. I then quickly turn the oven off again but the interior temperature is now just a touch warmer than the kitchen. This works great for the first rise of the dough in the colder months.

Ingredients


  • 1 cup very warm water
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp yeast
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1/2 cup ground flax
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 - 4 cups white bread flour

Instructions


  1. Add your yeast, water and sugar to your mixing bowl and let it proof. "Proofing" is letting it sit for a few minutes until the yeast starts activating and it gets foamy, kind of like sea foam. Once foamy, add all the rest of the ingredients using the smaller amount of flour at first. Once all ingredients are in the bowl and fully mixed, add up to the additional 1/2 -1 cup of white flour to touch until the dough is soft and pliable but not at all sticky. Putting your mixer on knead speed, let it knead the dough for you for 8 - 10 minutes. If you wish to knead it by hand you will need to work the dough for 15 minutes.
  2. While the dough is kneading, lightly oil a bowl large enough to hold the dough once it doubles in size. Remove the dough from the mixer and give the dough 2 - 3 hand kneads until it feels smooth. Form it into a large ball and lightly cover it in the oil from your rising bowl by turning it a couple of times. Cover the bowl with a towel and let it rise until double in size, approximately one hour. This time can vary depending on the temperature of the house, any breezes, etc. I have found doing the rising in a cold oven works best to keep the temperature consistent.
  3. Prepare two bread loaf pans by lightly oiling (not shortening, but oil) the sides of the pan. Do not oil the bottom, just the sides so that while the bread is baking it can rise easily. Once the dough is double in size remove it from the bowl and divide the dough in half. It may sound silly, but I weight out each piece to try to keep the sizes even - I am terrible at eye-balling it. Using a rolling pin flatten out each piece to about 1/2 - 1 inch thickness, being careful to keep the width of the dough equal to the size of your bread pan. Roll the dough into a loaf, place it into your bread pan, and then slice the dough through to the bottom in 3 places along the length of the loaf. Turn on your oven to 350, cover the bread pans with a towel and let it rise one last time. You are looking for the dough to rise up over the lip of the bread pan about an inch at most - for me this takes about 10 minutes, or about the same amount of time it takes for my oven to fully pre-heat to 350 (F).
  4. Bake for 33 minutes at 350 (F). Well, I would guess 30 - 35 minutes, depending on your oven. Remove the bread immediately from the pans and cool on a wire rack until room temperature before storing. I do not rub the top with butter or other things because I have found it makes the bread spoil faster. I have also found if you let the bread cool in the pans, or on a solid bottom surface, it gets a soggy crust.
Yield: 2 loaves

Prep Time: 00:25
Cook time: 00:33

Nutrition

Calories: 98
Total carbs: 15