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November 27th, 2006, 08:06 AM
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This is a good recipe for those that are inexperienced at bread making. It was the first bread that I made, and it got better and better with practice, and then I started making other recipes.

3 cups flour (white, whole wheat, or a combination of those)
1 tsp salt
1 packet of dry active yeast
1 TBSP sugar or honey
2 TBSP oil
1 cup warm water (120 degrees is perfect--not too hot, but warm enough to activate your yeast).

First, put the dry ingredients into the bowl (flour, sugar, salt, yeast--if using honey, add that to the water and stir it before using it). Mix the dry ingredients with a fork or your hand, and make a well in the middle. In the well, add your water and oil (and honey if using it). Stir with the fork until you can't stir anymore and then use clean hands to mix around until it forms a ball and all the flour is stuck into the mass.

After you've gotten it all mixed (you may need a smidge more flour or water, but I never have), put it on the countertop or table with a little flour and start the kneading. Press, stretch, fold, press, stretch, fold, etc. A good five minutes, but eight to ten won't hurt it at all. You'll want the dough to smooth out before you stop kneading. This indicates that you've kneaded it successfully. When you're done kneading, "spank" the dough thoroughly to get it into a ball.

Let rest.

Wash out your bowl and dry it. Pour in a teaspoon of oil, and take the dough ball and roll it around in the oil so it's coated. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm spot for at least 2 hours (may take a little longer--it needs to double in size).

After it's doubled, punch it down and knead it a little. Only long enough to smooth out all the air pockets.

At this point, you form your loaf shape. You can do it in a round baking dish or a loaf pan, or (MY PREFERENCE) is to use two cleaned out 46 oz. juice cans. My kids don't like crust, and this makes most of the bread crust free.

So, form your bread and put into greased baking dish. If you are using the cans, you make a kind of elongated 'cylinder' shape and put in standing up. It'll take its form from there. If in a round dish, make a ball, and if a loaf, a cylinder shape that you'll lay in side ways.

Cover again and sit in a warm spot to rise. The second rise takes at least an hour, but two won't hurt it at all.

When it's risen again in the baking dish (es), remove towel, place in oven, set oven to 350, and the timer to 30 minutes.

After the 30 minutes, flip the bread loaf out and thump the bottom. If it sounds hollow, then it's done. If it still sounds solid, put it in for another five minutes. Repeat. When it sounds hollow, take it out, flip out of baking dish, and allow to cool. Flipping out is important--otherwise it turns to a soggy mess.

After it cools, slice and enjoy.

This makes one regular loaf pan, two 46 oz. cans, or one round pan bread. This recipe is about 65 cents to make! So aside from delicious, it's economical.
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