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Monday, March 18, 2013

Let's Make Bread!

It's raining and cold out today so, I will give a test run for you on a picture posting on how to make my sandwich bread. If I had my husband here, we would make it a video, but he's at work today. Here are a list of ingredients that you will need. I recommend if you have never made bread before, not to substitute any ingredients if you can help it. This is the base for all my bread. I mean to say that after you master this kind of plain ole' white bread, you can make any kind of bread your heart desires.

4- cups Bread Flour
1/2- cup sugar
4- tablespoons yeast (quick rising for this recipe)
4- tablespoons real butter
1 1/2- cups milk (whole milk)
3- tablespoons "vital wheat gluten" (should be on the flour/baking isle)
2- teaspoons salt

(recipe for 2 loaves)

For those who don't know what vital wheat gluten looks like. It makes the bread incredibly soft. If you omit it, your bread will have a harder texture, but still very good.

I have this wonderful deep glass measuring cup from Pampered Chef. I fill it with the cold milk from the fridge and half a stick of cold butter and pop it in the microwave for exactly 2 minutes.

Once it is ready, I whisk the heck out of it until it is frothy. I also check the temperature to be no higher than 120 degrees (with a glass candy thermometer). If you don't have a thermometer (which I highly recommend:If you have ever tested a baby bottle on your wrist, if it tingles, it is too hot. But, it shouldn't be cold either. The perfect temperature wakes up the yeast and too hot just kills it so your bread won't rise at all.(99-115 degrees is best)

In my Kitchen Aide mixer bowl, I have the yeast, gluten and sugar. I pour the liquid over those ingredients and whisk the heck out of it once again.

Let it sit for a minute then add the 4- cups of bread flour. Don't pack it but make it as accurate as possible. I use a dough cutter to scrape it off the top.

Add your salt.

Then, before I turn the mixer on, I use a rubber spatula to mix it up a little and scrap it off the sides of the bowl. This is when I can tell if it has enough liquid vs enough flour. It is thick and glue like.

Then turn your mixer on the second speed (never go higher than 2!) Also, use the dough hook attachment. We are kneading, which incorporates air, not beating. Knead for 10 minutes. Hand kneading is a task. I did it for years before my mixer. The basic concept is incorporating air as you mix the ingredients. Fold and punch down from corner to corner as you turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. If you use this method, I recommend starting with 3 1/2 cups flour and dusting as you knead. Try to keep the dough as elastic as you can without over flouring. 10 minutes is sufficient or until the dough feels like a baby's bottom.

I have an extra large stainless steel bowl I use to rise my dough in. I spray it with canola oil and turn the dough into the oiled bowl and cover it with saran wrap. I put it in my microwave which is above my stove and preheat my stove which makes the perfect rising environment for bread. It usually takes 30 minutes or until the dough doubles in size.

Punch down the dough and turn it onto the counter top. I use the dough cutter to divide it in half down the middle then fold the ends and sides together and put each loaf into a sprayed glass bread pan.

Set into a warm dry place (my microwave) and let rise again until it doubles in size. (approximately another 30 minutes)

Preheat the oven to 375. (I have had mine on the whole time and it radiates heat up to the microwave to help my dough rise)

Put your bread in the preheated oven. Center rack only. It keeps your bread cooking evenly.

Cook for 18-20 minutes according to your oven. 20 is perfect for my oven.

It should be a golden brown. It helps having a glass dish because you can see the color all the way around the entire loaf.

Let the bread cool for about 10-15 minutes in the dish. It is soft bread inside so if you take it out too soon it may collapse. Turn it over gently onto a cooling rack. Wait until bottom is cooled enough to cut.

I pre-cut mine for sandwiches. You can wait to cut the second loaf if you'd like as you use the slices up. It works best to cut with a serrated bread knife. Cut the pieces slowly and don't use too much tension holding the loaf while you cut the pieces or you will squish the bread.

Voila! You have made bread! Enjoy and let me know how it goes.


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