Letting Life Lead
Today would be a good time to find your stretchy pants.
I have been making a wonderful white sandwich bread lately because bread has gotten expensive. In the past I stopped making it because it was a hassle and my results weren’t consistent. My bread machine is also getting old and it often over kneads dough.
This recipe has consistent results and rates high on the yum-o-meter. There is a recipe, but it does take some “gut work” because flour to liquid can’t be exact. Don’t worry, this bread is so forgiving you can bake it with one eye open at two in the morning.
1 cup warm water
1 tbsp yeast
1/8 cup (2 tbsp) of sugar*
Let the yeast proof for at least ten minutes.
*I prefer to use 3 tbsp sugar for a slight sweetness. If you want sweet bread use 1/4 cup (4 tbsp).
2 cups bread flour + 1 cup reserved
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp oil
To the yeast mixture add 2 cups of flour, salt, and oil. Mix and knead with your hands (don’t be shy). Add the 1 cup of reserved flour a little at a time until dough is tacky but not sticky. This can take anywhere from 1/4 cup to the full cup of flour. Knead dough for about ten minutes (or until it passes the window stretch test). Dust flour on surface to avoid sticking, but the dough should remain somewhat tacky, but won’t stick to your hands as long as you keep it moving.
Let rise 1 hour (until double). If your house is hot, this may take only 25 minutes, but a slower rise is better for flavor.
While you wait, grease a bread pan with butter or oil (you can also make a free form loaf).
IMPORTANT: Punch down dough after rising. It’s okay to be firm. Get out the air bubbles. I press with my fingertips and use a rolling pin. If you don’t your bread will have big holes instead of the close texture of sandwich bread. Holes don’t affect flavor, but it does impact texture. Dough will be tacky, dust with a little flour to prevent sticking while you work. You aren’t kneading, just getting the bubbles out.
Form into a loaf shape and put into greased bread pan.
Let rise 1 hour until just barely over the top of the pan (or rise double).
Put bread into a cold oven (it will rise a bit more) and turn it to 325F and bake for 25-35 minutes. My oven is quirky, so my dial is set between 325F and 350F and I bake for 30 minutes or so. The top will be a rich, golden brown.
Remove from pan right away or the bottom will get soggy. Brush the top with butter (it makes a difference — the crust will have that lovely bakery bought softness). Let cool completely on a rack before cutting.
Tips: You may not get it perfect the first time, but here’s some advice. I screw up so you don’t have to! (But, seriously, you will. Just practice.)
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