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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Easy Basic Bread Recipe

I never used to make bread. I love the taste, the texture, and the smell of new bread, but I always thought it too hard to do. I let other people do it, ate their offerings, and wished I could do the same. Then my grandmother wrote this recipe down for me, and I realized it's not as hard as it seems. It takes a while, but there's not as much work involved as you think. Your actual work time is only about 25 minutes; the rest of the time you are letting the dough rest or rise. I know that you think that you can't do this, but anybody who can cook a dinner can make a loaf of bread. And there is nothing more delicious than a slice of homemade bread, still warm from the oven. Try this out; you'll be surprised how easy it actually is.

I cup warm water (think baby bottle warm)
2 tablespoons Yeast (or two packages)
About 7 cups of Flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons olive oil
Melted Butter for brushing on top of bread

Put 1 cup of warm water plus one tablespoon sugar in a mixing bowl. Add two tablespoons of yeast, sprinkling it on top. Let sit for about five minutes, until the mixture is foamy and has increased in size.

Add three cups of flour, 1 cup of milk, dash of salt, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 4 tablespoons of oil. I like to use olive oil. Stir 50 times clockwise, and then 50 times counter-clockwise.

Add another 3 to 4 cups of flour and mix until the dough forms a good ball. Turn dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface and let it sit for ten minutes. Then knead the dough for 5 to 10 minutes. (press down with your hands, folding dough over and over)

Let rise in a greased bowl for about an hour. It should double in size. Punch down the dough. Literally, punch your fist down in the very middle of the dough and deflate it. Divide into two equal parts and shape into loaves. Place in Nonstick Loaf Pans . Let it rise again for 30 to 45 minutes. Bake at 425 degrees for about 25-30 minutes. When you tap the top of the loaf, it should sound hollow. If it doesn't, cook it a little more.

Cool on a wire rack, or balance it on the edge of the two pans. Brush the top with melted butter. Don't cut it for at least 20 minutes, or the inside of the loaf will be doughy.

And that's it. Easy-peasy.

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