I have been working steadily on the Wonky Castle blocks this week. While working on those blocks today, I needed a little break and I thought it would be nice to share my favorite bread recipe with you. Couple of years ago, I wanted to give bread-making a try. I started looking for an easy, no-fuss bread recipe on the web and came across this one -
Believe me when I say this one is a simple bread recipe and has become our staple bread. I made only a few changes to the recipe.
- My breads weren’t rising enough. So I added 3 (0.25-ounce) packages active dry yeast instead of the 2 that the recipe calls for. That made all the difference for me.
- In the second half of the recipe I added 1/2 cup of honey instead of 1/3 cup because I wanted the bread to be mildly sweeter than the original recipe.
- I add 4 tbsp of Gluten in the bread when I add the melted butter, honey and salt. The original version was a little too crumbly for my taste.
A few handy tips -
- Have some room temperature butter handy.
- For the most part, I use my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer to make the bread. However, the quantity is a little more than my stand mixer can handle. So I let it do most of the work and then finish up the last bit of kneading by hand.
- From the very beginning, try to keep the dough in an area that has stable temperature and is draft-free. I live in an apartment, so I stash mine in the bedroom walk-in closet and close the door. Just a cautionary note, the closet will smell of wheat at the end, but I like it. When I pull the closet door back open, it aerates out easily.
- I also cover the dough with a paper towel. I tried dishtowels before. Dough got stuck to the dishtowel and it was really hard to clean. Since then I use paper towels.
Last week I made three loaves and this time I remembered to take photos. Hopefully you will find them helpful if you decide to give this bread a try.
Step 1 – This is before and after the yeast mixture rising. Sometimes it takes more than 30 minutes for the yeast mixture to rise nicely.
Step 2 - I finish most of this step using my stand mixer. I add the 3.5 cups of the flour in 1/2-cup increments. I have an extra large cutting board which I sprinkle some flour on, put the dough on top and finish kneading by hand. It doesn’t take much time after the stand mixer has done its job – maximum of 5 minutes to get the dough smooth. You really don’t need to be too fussy about it, because as the dough rises it smooths out. Just make sure that everything is mixed in nicely.
Step 2 – This is before and after the dough rises in the bowl. I use a large mixing bowl for this. This step can sometimes also take more than 30 minutes to rise. You don’t have to let it rise that much like you see in my photo. I was doing something else and completely forgot about the dough! Make sure it doubles its original size, and you are good to go.
Step 3 - This is before and after the dough rising in the loaf-pan. This takes about 45 – 50 minutes for me. I only took a picture of one loaf pan. There are two other pans that look very similar. You will need to stretch the dough a little to fill the pan when you first put the dough in.
Step 4 - I bake the dough for 30 minutes. Then I pop them out of the pans on a wire rack. I brush the loaves with room temperature/soft butter instead of melted butter. Then I let them cool completely.
Few tips on freezing from my personal experiences -
I cut the loaves into slices later on the same day and freeze them. If you decide not to freeze and you’re not going to use them right away, make sure to wrap them in plastic wrap, otherwise they will get stale and hard.
When I freeze bread, I pack the freezer bags loosely and I do not stack the the bags too high. Otherwise, the weight of the upper bags will compress the lower bags before the slices freeze and become hard. Once the breads have been frozen completely, then you can stack them as much as you want to free up freezer space.
If you ever wanted to make bread but were apprehensive about the whole process, this is a really easy recipe to try. Only thing to remember is not to schedule any outing that day. Each step doesn’t take much time, but there are waiting periods in between.
Don’t forget to visit next week for February’s Wonky Castle block. I will also have a little surprise for you on Friday.
Until next time,