Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bread Makin' 101

I think making bread scares some people. I have never felt that way, I have been making bread since I was a young girl. I love homemade bread! It is so yummy! There is nothing that smells better than bread baking in the oven and nothing that tastes better than a slice of warm bread with butter and homemade strawberry jam. I hope to be able to share with you some of our favorite bread recipes.  We make all types of bread along with homemade bagels, pitas, pretzels, and pizza dough. I make homemade bread for three reasons: 1. It is delicious, 2. It saves us money, 3. It is healthier for us. I use a lot of bread machine recipes, because I use my bread machine a lot. I love it. It saves me tons of time. It kneads the bread perfectly and creates the perfect environment for the bread to raise. I never bake my bread in the bread machine, however, I do not like the giant hole that is created in the middle of my bread from the knead bar. Instead I use the dough setting on my machine and then take my dough out, shape it, let it raise a second time, and then bake it. All of the recipes I use on a daily basis are for the bread machine, but you don't have to have a bread machine to make them. All you have to do is follow basic bread making techniques and any of these recipes can be made by hand. Let me show you how easy it is:

Here is your list of ingredients for a 1 & 1/2 pound loaf of 50% Whole Wheat Bread:

1 & 1/4 Cups Warm Water (75 - 85 degrees)
1 Tb. Honey
2 Tb. Butter or Margarine (melted or softened)
1 & 2/3 Cups Bread Flour
1 & 2/3 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
2 Tb. Brown Sugar, packed
2 Tb. Dry Milk
1 & 1/2 tsp. Salt
1 & 3/4 tsp. Active Dry Yeast
 (You can substitute the warm water and dry milk with 1 & 1/4 cups warm milk if you would like.)

I made two batches of bread following the same recipe here they are side by side. On the right is my bread machine pan and on the left is the batch I plan to mix and knead by hand. First you put in the warm water, butter, honey, and yeast.

On top of the water mixture you put your flours, then brown sugar, dry milk, and salt. At this point the bread machine pan is ready to go into the machine. Simply lock it into place and start it on the dough setting. 

Mix together your dough until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated into the wet ingredients. 

You will end up with a ball of dough that should look something like this. 

Your ball of dough will be a bit sticky and this is how you want it. You might need to add a little flour but not much. Just lightly flour your kneading surface, with a couple of tablespoons of flour. You don't want to use too much flour or your bread will become dry.

Knead your bread for at 8 to 10 minutes. To keep your bread from sticking just keep it moving. Use quick motions pulling and pushing the dough and turning it with each motion. 

Once your dough has been kneaded place it back into a lightly oiled bowl, turn it once so that all sides of the dough are covered with oil. Cover with a light towel and place it in a warm, draft free area, and allow it to raise until doubled in size. 

 Here are my two batches of dough side by side, both have raised once. My batch of bread machine dough fell when I took it out of the machine, but that is okay, you punch it down at this point anyway.  Take your dough out of the bowl, punch it down, and shape it into loaves.

Place your shaped loaves into a greased bread pan. I just use some non-stick spray in my pans. Cover your loaf pans with a light towel and allow them to raise until double again.

 Here are my raised loaves side by side. The bread machine loaf is on the right and the loaf I did by hand is on the left. My bread machine loaf raised a bit faster. At this point I popped that one in the oven and allowed the one I kneaded by hand to raise a bit longer.
Homemade Whole Wheat Bread

Bake your bread in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes. By the time my bread machine loaf was done the loaf I had kneaded by hand was ready for the oven. Here they are side by side, bread machine on the right and handmade on the left. Easy right! and oh so yummy! and healthy too! - Not a whole bunch of preservatives and junk and made with 50% whole grain flour. Check back for more yummy bread recipes. I will share all of our favorites with you.

As a side note: You can double this recipe and make two loaves at once, but only if you are doing it by hand, a double loaf won't fit in the bread machine. You can also use your kitchen aid mixer to do the work for you. 

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