Thursday, February 18, 2010

Basic White Bread

People ask me for my recipes a lot. The problem is that I don't usually use too many recipes. I'm a lot like the women before me, I just throw things in. I eyeball it. But starting today I am going to make a conscious effort to get some of my recipes commited to paper. This recipe however is a most have for everyone. Not to mention it has been requested by my cousin, Hillary, a few times. Making homemade bread is time consuming, and the first time it is a bit intimidating, but the end result is more than worth it. This recipe is the closest thing that I have found to my Grandma Lovelace's bread. You see I got my ability to just "throw things in" from her. Her recipe went with her when she left us, as far as I know. Nothing warms the home like homemade bread, and people are more than grateful to receive it as a gift (I give it a lot). So here we go. On my maiden cooking blog voyage, I give you bread.

Basic White Bread (Country Wisdom and Know-how: Everything you Need to Know to Live off the Land)

This is for two loaves. If you're going to go to the trouble, you may as well make two loaves, but it can be cut in half.

2 cups milk

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons dry yeast

1/2 cup lukewarm water

6-61/4 cups white flour

1. Heat the milk in a medium size saucepan. Add the butter, sugar, and salt. Stir until dissolved.

2. Stir the yeast into the lukewarm water in a large bowl. Make sure it's dissolved, then set aside to proof for 5 minutes.

3. Add the cooled milk mixture to the proofed yeast. Beat in the flour, 1 cup at a time, then turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead.
**I don't really use the measurement for flour. I go by the feel of the dough. You want the dough to feel just like your earlobe. The humidity of your house will vary each time you make the bread, so the measurement of flour will also.

4. Place in a greased bowl and turn the ball of dough around so it's greased on all sides. Cover. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.
**This is my process for letting bread rise. I boil water and fill a bowl with it and place it in the bottom of the oven (don't heat the oven). Then I cover the bowl containing the dough with a towel and let it rise above the bowl of water in the oven for 45min. - an hour.

5. Punch down the dough, turn it out onto the floured surface again, and knead once more, briefly.

6. Shape the dough into two loaves. Place them in two well greased, large (9 inch) loaf pans. Cover. Let rise once more.
** I do the boiling water in the bowl thing again.

7. Preheat your oven to 400 F.
**I leave the water in an oven safe bowl to bake with the bread during the winter. It makes the bread moist. The air is so dry in the winter.

8. When the loaves have doubled in size, bake for 45 minutes, then remove from the pans and allow to cool.