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Fear Conquered: Homemade White Bread
“Do you want to buy a loaf of bread from me?” I ask rather timidly. I’m 12 years old and desperate to make money. Or at least desperate to find people to pay me money.
So I’m peddling homemade bread to friends, neighbors and church-goers. Because maybe someone with an appetite for the homemade will contract a 12-year-old as their personal baker. Not that 12-year-olds make for good personal bakers. At least not this particular 12-year-old.
Truth be told, bread-baking holds very little excitement for this 12-year-old. Or passion. And weekly bread-baking for my two customers is just one more chore. A long, finicky, 4-hour chore resulting in unpredictable results. And sadly, I’m not above packaging the shameful bread disasters and pushing them on my customers. Yeah. Not a good personal baker.
Admittedly, lazy 12-year-old personal bakers desperate for money do not make a recipe for success. But learning to bake your own homemade bread - now that’s powerful stuff. No more squishable wonder(less) bread. No more preservatives. No more strange flavors. Just delicious aromas and warm baked bread.
And it’s a lot easier than you might think. Yeasted bread doesn’t have to be finicky and the results can always be beautiful. The proof is this bread. Just dump the ingredients into a bowl, knead everything together, let it rise a couple times, and bake. You can knead by hand (so satisfying) or make it easy on yourself and let a stand mixer do the work. You can even let your bread machine do the whole thing. Because bread can be easy.
Just remember, if a lazy 12-year-old can do it (and get paid), so can you. Except maybe for the paid part.
STORY | PRINTABLE RECIPE | HUNGRY FOR TIPS?
|Warm 2 1/2 cups of skim milk.|
|Add 3 teaspoons active dry yeast and let yeast bloom for 5 minutes or so.|
|Add 1 cup rolled oats to yeast and milk.|
|Add 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour and 3 cups unbleached bread flour.|
|Add 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter.|
|Add remaining ingredients to the dough.|
|Mix dough thoroughly to combine.|
|Roughly knead the dough in the bowl until it begins to pull together.|
|Gather the dough into a rough ball and turn out onto a generously floured surface.|
|Knead the dough for 5 minutes, then let rest for 10 minutes; knead for another 5 minutes.|
|Form dough into a ball and return to the mixing bowl. Cover with oiled plastic rack and let the dough rise in a warm location.|
|Let the dough rise for at least 60 minutes until doubled in size.|
|Deflate the dough and knead for 2 minutes.|
|Gather the dough into a ball and return to the bowl.|
|Cover the dough with the oiled plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes.|
|Deflate the dough the divide in half.|
|Form each half of the dough into a loaf and place in greased bread pans.|
|Brush the loaves with egg wash and sprinkle of rolled oats.|
|Let the loaves rise for approximately 30-40 minutes until doubled.|
|Bake the loaves for 40 minutes until browned.|
|Let the loaves cool in the bread pans for 10 minutes, then turn out the loaves onto a wire rack and let cool completely.|
STORY | PHOTO TUTORIAL | HUNGRY FOR TIPS?
Hearty White Sandwich Bread
Prep Time: 2 hr 30 min
Cook Time: 40 min
Ingredients (2 loaves)
- 2 1/2 cups milk, warmed (105-115℉)
- 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 cup (110 grams) rolled oats, plus more for sprinkling
- 3 Tablespoons honey
- 3 cups (435 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3 cups (435 grams) unbleached bread flour
- 1 Tablespoon vital wheat gluten
- 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Organic shortening (for greasing bread pans)
- 1 large egg
- 1 Tablespoon milk
- 1 1/8 cups milk, warmed (105-115℉)
- 1/2 cup (55 grams) rolled oats
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons honey
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 3 cups (435 grams) unbleached bread flour
- 1 teaspoon vital wheat gluten
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk with your fingers; set aside for 5 minutes to allow the yeast to bloom
- Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl in the order listed and mix together thoroughly with a large wooden spoon until the dough gathers into a sticky mass (you can alternatively use a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook)
- Turn out the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, adding extra flour as necessary if the dough is too sticky to work with (you can alternatively use a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook); after kneading, let the dough rest for 10 minutes, then knead again for 5 minutes
- Gather the dough into a ball and return to the mixing bowl; cover with oiled plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 1 hour; punch down and deflate the dough, gather into a ball, re-cover with the plastic wrap and let rise for another 30 minutes
- Make the egg wash by thoroughly beating together the egg and milk with a fork; set aside. Grease two bread pans with shortening
- After the dough’s final rise, deflate and gather the dough into a ball; divide the dough in half; shape each half into an oval loaf, transfer to the prepared bread pans and brush the loaves with egg wash and sprinkle with rolled oats
- Let the loaves rise in a warm place for 30 to 40 minutes until doubled in size and preheat the oven to 375℉ during the final 15 minutes of the rise
- Bake the loaves for 30 minutes (if using metal pans) or 40 minutes (if using glass or ceramic pans), then remove from the oven and let the loaves cool in the pans for 10 minutes; turn out the loaves and serve immediately for best flavor (or cool completely for best slicing texture)
- Following the order listed, add the Bread Machine ingredients to the basket fitted with the mixing paddle(s); select the French Bread (or White Bread) cycle for a 2 pound loaf and start the machine (the bread machine will do the rest)
- After the bread machine completes the bake cycle, turn out the baked loaf and serve immediately for best flavor or cool completely for best slicing texture
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Hungry for Tips?
- Substitutions: If you don’t have honey, use granulated sugar (the flavor changes slightly). If you don’t have vital wheat gluten, you can leave it out (the texture isn’t quite as lovely). If you don’t have bread flour, you can use all all-purpose (although the gluten may not be be quite as resilient or easily activated). If you don’t want to use butter, use olive oil instead (the bread won’t be quite as soft).
- Bread Pans: I use ceramic CorningWare bread pans which I love. But glass or metal pans work just fine. If you use metal pans, reduce the bake time 5 to 10 minutes. If you don’t have bread pans, you can instead bake the loaves in two large soufflé dishes or even in large oven-safe bowls. Just make sure you generously grease your baking dishes of choice so you can get the loaves out.
- Stand Mixer: You definitely do not need a machine to bake this bread. I typically do the whole thing by hand, without ever touching a stand mixer, but if you prefer to let the machine do the work, the bread turns out virtually the same. And for those of you with a bread machine (a wonderful kitchen appliance I highly recommend), the bread turns out delicious every time.
- Shaping: The most important part of shaping the loaves is to deflate the dough and tuck any seams or edges under the loaf so that as the loaves rise and bake, so unsightly air pockets or seams don't pop out. Beyond that, use any technique you like to shape the loaves.
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