We love bread, like seriously love bread. We realized we were going through about 2 loaves of great harvest bread every single week. That is not cheap! I decided to try my hand at making bread. Now, a couple months later- I can’t imagine buying bread.
I love the feeling of the dough and smell of the house while it bakes, and of course, store bought bread has nothing on the taste of warm bread fresh out of the oven.
Costco has a huge bag of bread flour for $10- that makes enough bread for a couple months. We also get yeast and butter from Costco- it’s so much cheaper and lasts us a while.
Here is my favorite white bread recipe adapted from allrecipes.com
You will need
2 cups of hot water (110 degrees or so)
2/3 cup sugar or honey
1.5 tablespoons of active dry yeast
1.5 teaspoons of salt
1/4 melted butter (real butter)
6 ish cups of flour
Now- how do these 6 simple and cheap ingredients create such a fantastic masterpiece? Well let me tell you!
1- mix the water and sugar (or honey) in a bowl- then sprinkle the yeast on top. Let it sit for a few minutes to get all nice a foamy- this is how you know it’s going to be nice and fluffy.
2- add salt and butter to the frothy yeast sugar water mixture and give it a little stir
3- add about 3 cups of flour and stir
4- add 1 cup of flour and stir
5- add 1 cup of flour and stir
This part can get a bit tricky if you are new to making bread. The amount of flour you use really will vary on the weather, where you live, and all sorts of other factors- and it won’t be the same amount every time you bake. You will probably need around 6 cups of flour- sometimes I only need 5, other times I need 7. The dough should be smooth and pull away from the bowl while you stir it. After 5 cups of flour, I usually have a full cup sitting on the counter to slowly add as needed as I start to work the dough with my hands. Sprinkle some flour on the counter, plop your dough on it and start to knead it with your hands. If you are new to kneading- use your knuckles to push it around. Fold it in half, rotate it a quarter and repeat until it is elastic, smooth and soft.
Next- find a place to set it to rise. I put mine in the oven, covered with a damp towel with the oven light on- this creates the damp warm environment that the bread needs to become fluffy goodness.
After it’s doubled in size, take it out of the bowl and punch it down- work out the air bubbles with your hands and knuckles.
Divide it in half and put it in nicely buttered bread pans or on a pizza stone in whatever shape you choose.
Let it rise again until it’s about an inch above the bread pans (usually takes 45 minutes)
Put your loaves of bread into a preheated oven set at 350 degrees. Don’t put it in before it’s preheated- rookie mistake.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Pull the bread out of the oven and leave it in the pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes (or so) dump it out of the pans.
It will smell amazing, it will look amazing, you will want to eat it. Resist the temptation and wait another 20 minutes- the bread needs to reabsorb all the moisture and you will lose it if you cut into it too soon. As soon as it’s been out of the oven for 30 minutes- eat a slice with some butter (use real butter, none of that imitation crap), peanut butter, honey, jelly, whatever you want. Eat the whole loaf- I won’t judge. Be impressed with your amazing bread making skills and refuse to buy store bought bread because it can’t compare.