|I absolutely LOVE bread..I'm a carb addict, honestly. I swear to you I could never do the Atkin's Diet, I wouldn't last a day without carbs. Breakfast/lunch usually consists of bagels, waffles, homemade muffins or something along those lines.|
And, with that said..I made bread! From scratch, with yeast and everything. My goal is to learn the art of bread making. And I will be honest, that seems like no small feat to me. Bread baking has always been a bit intimidating to me. All that kneading, and rising..scary.
I used a recipe from The Weekend Baker, which by the way is a fantastic book. It seems to have lots of great recipes. The book is broken down into 3 sections, based on the amount of time you are able to devote to the recipes. The only thing I don't like about the book is there aren't a lot of photos. I'm super visual so great color photos are a HUGE must for me when it comes to cookbooks!
Makes 1 round loaf
3 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) instant yeast
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/3 cups very warm water (between 115 & 125 degrees)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
Optional: 2/3 cup finely chopped mixed fresh herbs
(recipe can be prepared by hand, however instructions are for using a stand mixer, as that's the method I used)
1. To mix in a stand mixer
In a large bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, yeast, sugar, salt and baking powder. Whisk until well blended.
2. Check water temp; should register about 120 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. In order for the yeast to grow, the liquid needs to be between 115-125 degrees.
3. Fit mixer with dough hook. With the mixer on medium-low speed, slowly pour the warm water into the flour mixture and mix until the flour is completely incorporated. Add the chopped herbs (if using). Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the bottom and sides of the bowl, about 6 minutes. If the dough clumbs up the hook, stop the mixer and scrape the dough back into the bowl. Don't venture too far away while the dough is mixing, as the mixer might dance around on the counter because of the large amoutn of dough.
4. Let the dough rise
Scoop up the dough & shape into a ball. Lightly grease the bowl & pop the dough back into it. Cover the top securely with plastic wrap. Let the covered dough rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
5. Generously butter an 8-inch round cake pan. Turn the dough out onto clean work surface (no need to flour; the dough is soft, but not sticky) and press down gently to deflate it. Shape dough into a rough 7 inches wide & place it, smooth side up, in the prepared pan. Generously brush with some of the melted butter. You may not need all the butter.
6. Let dough rise (no need to cover it) in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 25 minutes. It will fill the pan and will be light and airy to the touch.
7. Position an oven rack on the middle rung. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Brush dough with remaining butter.
8. Bake until the boule is well browned and sounds hollow when tapped, abuot 40 minutes. Transfer pan to a rack, tip the baked bread onto the rack, and remove the pan. Set the loaf right side up and let cool completely.
I was pretty pleased with the outcome. This is just a good basic crusty white bread. Definitely a good beginner recipe for others like myself who want to start baking bread. I was afraid of over kneading the dough and actually I think I should have kneaded it more because it was a bit sticky. So I'll try the recipe again and be sure to knead the dough more. The only other thing I'm not sure about is why the bread softened up after it had been sitting overnight. It's by no means soggy, but initially it was fairly hard and when tapped the loaf sounded hollow. I put the loaf in a large ziploc bag on the counter overnight and the next morning I noticed it seemed to have softened up. My muffins often do this too. I guess something to do with moisture, does anyone have any clues or suggestions? If so I would love to hear from you, please let me know.
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