Now, onto the recipe: I like to bake, but I cannot really say I love it. I don't like the fact that you have to be so dang precise on the measurements. I learned that the hard way when I was younger. I decided to make southern style biscuits one time for my family. I thought it would be easy and I could impress not only my family, but my sister's boyfriend at the time. I thought he was a pretty cool guy...at the time that is... I can hands down say that my brother-in-law beats them all :) But I digress, the biscuits turned out to be little hockey pucks. I couldn't figure out what went wrong, but the older I got and the more I found out about baking, I realize I did not follow the directions exactly...hence, biscuits that never rose.
I spoke of my fear of baking bread to Andrea The Kitchen Witch and she said she had a basic white bread recipe she thought I should try. Bless that girls heart, she not only shared the recipe with me AND gave me step by step pictures and instructions, but she also agreed to let me blog about it!! Thank you so much, Andrea...I am forever grateful to you for helping me over come a fear and so very honored that you would let me share this recipe with my readers!
My dad makes a fantastic sausage bread and I have never been able to duplicate it. Ok, I have duplicated, but not as well. My dad can get at least two loafs from a recipe and I kept up ending with just one. I believe it was because I was not patient enough. My reasoning behind trying this step by step instructed recipe was to perfect my dad's..... And maybe he'll even allow me to share that one with you too!!
Anyway, I am proud of the outcome...it was the perfect size loaf and the perfect texture. I could not have asked for a better loaf of bread!! YAY!!!! Thanks again Andrea!!
Basic White Bread
Recipe courtesy of Andrea The Kitchen Witch
500 g King Arthur Bread Flour (about 4-5 cups)
2 Tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt (I use a palmful, its about 2t, too little salt & the bread will just taste pasty, so don't be afraid of it!)
5 teaspoons sugar, divided
about 2 cups water total
Directions:In a small bowl proof the yeast by adding yeast, 1 t sugar and 1/2 cup warm (110 degrees) water. Mix it up as best as you can, lumps are OK, and let it sit for 5 min. It should bubble and double in size - if it doesn't then throw it away & try again with new yeast.
In the work bowl of your stand mixer combine the flour, remaining 4t of sugar, butter and salt. Add proofed yeast and 1 cup water. Mix until it comes together. If there is a lot of dry flour add a little more water, about 1T at a time, until it starts to come together. Its gonna knead for 8 min or so, so this will also give the flour time to hydrate. Its better to have too little water than too much, so start light & add as you need. Knead on medium speed for 8 minutes. You should have a smooth elastic dough that holds a ball shape but also starts to spread out when removed from the bowl.
Put the kneaded dough in a oiled bowl, cover with plastic and a towel. Let double in size.
Punch down dough and kneed it by hand a little to redistribute the yeast. Allow it to rise again and double in size.
Once the 2nd rise has been done punch the dough down and press it into a rough rectangle shape. TIGHTLY roll the dough into a log shape, keeping the top taught so you get a nice crust. Put it in a sprayed loaf pan or free form it on a sheet pan.
Allow to double in size again, once nice & puffed put into a 385 oven. Spray the top of the bread with water liberally. Spray the bread with water every 10 minutes until bread is done. The water hydrates the dough and causes the surface gluten to gelatainze which in turn builds a nice crusty brown crust. You will have the brownest most beautiful bread when sprayed with plain water, something that a butter baste could never do!
Bake bread about 30-40 min or until crust is golden browned. I usually pop the bread out of the pan to see if the bottom is browned too. If its not, bake it another 10 min. Once the sides are browned remove from oven & allow to cool. Eat and enjoy!