Friday, March 2, 2012

How to's on bread making w pics!

I will be the first to tell you I am no expert on bread making.  Over the years I have gotten "my hand" at bread making.  Which means I can now make it and it is good for sandwich bread.  Before it was good for toast, now I can use it whenever I need in.  In fact my youngest son prefers my bread to store bought(smile).  Some resources that helped me over the way are my sister, the "more with less cookbook", and  I have read many articles as well, but I can't remember them.  I will be able to impart to those of you interested, what I have learned so that maybe your first loaf of bread will also be good for sandwiches and not just toast(although the toast was awesome).  Here is my recipe for "wheat bread".

Wheat bread(1/2 white 1/2 wheat flour)

2 cups slightly warm water(about 105 degrees)
1 TBS yeast
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup olive oil(or oil of your choice)
2 tsp salt
5-6 cups of flour(1/2 and 1/2 or whatever you want)

 First of all you take your 2 cups of slightly warm water and your brown sugar and mix them together well.  It should look like the above pic.  Then sprinkle the yeast over the top of the water/sugar mixture.  The yeast will begin to foam a little like the pic below.
 Once the yeast foams well you can add your oil and salt.  Notice I added the oil first then I put the salt inside the blob of oil.  I personally like to keep the salt separate from the yeast until I begin to mix everything.
 Now add 2 cups of whole wheat flour or all purpose if you are making all white bread.  Mix it well with a whisk if you have it or a good spoon.  Then add another cup of all purpose flour and stir it in with a spoon.  If you were using a whisk, you need to switch totally to a spoon now or you end up with dough stuck in the whisk everywhere.
 Add another cup of all purpose flour.  You should be up to 4 cups of flour in the bowl.  Your dough should start to look like the pic below.
 Fill up your measuring cup again with another cup of flour.  Stir in as much as you can with a spoon and then dump it out onto the counter.  Now you are going to only use enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands as you knead the dough.  Just sprinkle some on top.
 You will knead the dough by pushing the dough forward with the palms of your hands.  Turn it a little, fold it back towards you and push forward again.  If the dough gets sticky(and it will) add a little more flour.  You do not want to add too much flour.  I will set my kitchen timer for 12-15 minutes and knead no more than that.  Kneading activates the gluten in the bread.  You want to knead the dough until you start to see the dough tear a little.  You will also be able to test the dough by poking it with a floured finger.  If it bounces back well it is good to go.
 Place your dough into a greased bowl.  I use the bowl I mixed the dough in cause I hate to wash a lot of dishes.  Lol.  Turn it a bit to get a coating of oil/grease then cover it.  I use a plate to cover mine cause I don't want to use plastic wrap that I have to throw away.  Waste not! Let the dough rise only about 25-30 min.  No more or your bread will be dry and crumbly.
 When your dough is finished with its first rising, take it out, punch it down and knead it a bit more til it starts to feel "tight" again.  You know like it will tear again.  Cut the dough in half.  I usually cut mine unevenly cause I have a smaller loaf pan and a larger loaf pan.  So your eyes are not deceiving you.  Shape into loaves.  They don't have to be perfect.  Just tuck the ends underneath until it looks loaf like.  
 Cover your loaves and let them rise in a warm place until about 1 inch over the top of the pan. Again I used a wet cloth napkin to avoid plastic wrap.
 The pic below show what the risen dough should look like in the pan. Before you bake them.  I put my loaves into a cool oven while the oven preheats to help the loaves rise a little more.  bake in a 350 oven for about 15-20 min.
 When the bread comes out of the oven and while it is still hot, take a stick of butter or margarine and rub it over the top of the loaves.
 Then cover the loaves with a clean napkin or towel while they cool. Really don't want plastic here.  Let them cool about 10 min then remove them from their loaf pans and let them cool on a wire rack until completely cool.  Then put into a gallon size storage bag or other storage container.

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