Thursday, May 14, 2015

Good enough sandwich bread

This recipe is my own conglomeration but owes a great deal to a video tutorial Geek Lady posted on Facebook which got me into actually baking bread semi-successfully for the first time ever. I then heavily tweaked her recipe to suit my own purposes. 

4 c all-purpose flour, divided
2 tsp yeast
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/2 c very hot water

- Stir together 2 c flour, yeast, salt, and sugar

- Add water and stir everything together again. The water should be about 110*F or hot enough that you can stick your fingers in it for a second but not leave them there. (You should be able to get it to come out of the tap this hot if you turn the handle all the way over.)

-Turn the oven to "warm" (or whatever its lowest temperature is) and let it preheat. Once it's done preheating, TURN IT OFF.

- While waiting, take off all your rings and gradually add remaining 2 c of flour, kneading as you go. This step should not take more than 5 minutes or so; you just want to knead enough to incorporate the flour.

NB: Go by the feel of the bread more than by the exact amount of flour. You don't want the dough to be sticky but you want it to be pretty soft and pliable still. If it feels like Play-Doh you've got too much flour.

- Cover the dough and put it in the warmed-and-somewhat-cooled oven for a couple of hours. Go grocery shopping or take a nap or something.

- Take the dough out, preheat oven to "warm" again, turn it off again once it's done.

- While your oven is rewarming, grease a loaf pan, peel your dough off the sides of the bowl (it will have become somewhat sticky while rising), and form it into a rough oblong before dropping it into the pan. It helps to not wash the butter/oil/whatever off your hands in between the two parts of this step.

- Stick the dough back in the oven for a while, maybe an hour or so, until it comes a little ways over the top of the pan.

- Take the risen loaf out of the oven and preheat to 400*.

- Bake for about 20 minutes.

- Allow to cool completely before slicing.


I would like to figure out some whole-grain variations at some point but for whatever reason life has not allowed for the purchase of the necessary ingredients. I am very busy doing stuff on Facebook, don't you know?

Also, I am quite sure that I am Doing It Wrong somehow when it comes to bread-baking but we haven't died yet so I will carry on.


Emily said...

I've been making all of our family's bread for years now...a few tips:
You can leave out the preheating oven thing. Just leave the dough/loaves sitting out with a towel or something over them and they'll rise. In winter if you keep your house really cold or you're in a hurry, use the oven, but it's not necessary.

Bread dough is veeeeery forgiving. The longer you make it, the more you'll see how much. You can let that dough sit out for 5 hours, 10, 12 or more...and it will still work just fine when you get around to forming a loaf and baking it. The longer it sits, the more of a sour, "bread-y" flavor it will develop, and the crust will also be crispier when you bake it.

I used to think bread making took too much plastic wrap, which is annoyingly expensive and wasteful. Now I just raise the dough with a plate on top of the bowl, and raise the loaves with a towel over them. I only need plastic to store the bread in, and you can reuse the gallon bags until they die as long as you don't let a loaf go moldy in one.

Meijer or Kroger's store brand White Whole Wheat flour is nice for whole grain action in your bread that you won't notice much. I use it 50/50 with regular unbleached flour. You can do the same with regular (red) whole wheat flour. Your bread will taste more wheat-y .Leftover cooked oatmeal (sweetened is fine, even) is great in bread. Some ground flax (as in a few TBs) can add interest and nutrition as well.

If you put a little fat in your bread, some veg oil or butter (butter tastes better but when I am really being frugal I use canola oil as it's cheaper), it will keep nice longer and toast up better.

Sam's Club sells 2 lbs of yeast for some ridiculously cheap price, like $4. Put it in a jar in your freezer and it will keep forever.

The Sojourner said...

I've tried letting bread rise on the counter before and it always rises to a certain point and then stops and sits there disappointingly. (I did once leave a loaf out overnight and it was still flat and tasted strongly of beer once baked. Or so I assume; I've never actually had beer and have no inclination considering how that bread tasted.)

I don't think we keep our kitchen particularly cold, so perhaps bread dough has some kind of vendetta against me. :p

However, I have found since I wrote this post that using a certain amount of bread flour instead of all-purpose causes the bread to fluff up MUCH faster and much better than with straight ap. (The effect is maintained with as little as 50% bread flour.)

Now that I have the basic technique down fairly well, I do want to try some whole-grain breads; I don't actually like the taste of white bread very much. (Though homemade white bread is a million times less styrofoamy than storebought.)

I buy my yeast at GFS--1-lb packages for something like 1.69.

The Sojourner said...

P.S. I just published another post, if you're bored and want something to read.