Make bread while the sun shines?

Or at least, when I can bribe Jeff to take pictures of me doing it

Finally, my long-awaited bread tutorial!  I know, I know…y’all can’t wait. I can’t blame you.  Because if you can make bread, you can do anything.  It really should be one of those essential life skills, rating somewhere between checking your oil and calculating a tip.

So with no further ado…Basic White Bread:

Ingredients:  flour, sugar, shortening, butter, water, yeast, salt.  Can it get any simpler?

First of all, set your butter out on the counter to soften.  You won’t need much–maybe a tablespoon or two.

To start the dough, run your tap till the water comes out pretty warm.  How warm is pretty warm?  Iunno.  Just…pretty warm.  I don’t use a thermometer or anything.

(You might notice I’m not wearing my wedding band or engagement ring.  That’s because they would get very very dirty in a a few minutes.  Don’t bake and bling, please.  For the sake of your diamonds.)

Once your water’s warm enough, measure out 3/4 cup:

And pour it into a large mixing bowl:

Then cut open two packets yeast (the wristwatch tan line is optional):

And add those in.

Stir together until the yeast is mixed in and your kitchen is full of that wonderful yeasty smell.  (Which, I just learned, Jeff doesn’t like.  How could I have married him without this knowledge?!)

Once your yeast is activating, stir in 1c warm water:

Then another:

Then 2/3 of another (so by this point you’ve got the 3/4 cup you started out with, PLUS 2 2/3 cups):

Next comes 1/4 c sugar:

And a tablespoon of salt:

Then one…

two…

three tablespoons of shortening (it’s really not that much, divided up between two loaves in the end!):

Then measure out a cup of flour (you know this trick about using the flat side of the knife, right?  Makes it sooo easy, and precise!):

And add it:

Then add 4 more cups of flour (5 cups total, for those as mathematically-impaired as me! )


OK now your bread’s done!  Eat up!…  dammit, my jokes are only funny to 3-year-olds.  Ah well, nothing new.  Moving on…

At this point I wanted to refill my flour canister so I’d have it handy for finishing the dough.  That way I wouldn’t get my sticky fingers all over the bag.  That’s just me, though.  You may thrive on that sort of excitement.

Break out your hand mixer, put it on a nice medium setting, and have at it!

After mixing, your dough will have a nice smooth consistency, but it won’t really look like bread dough yet.  You fail at life.  Quit baking now, loser.

Just kidding.  It’s supposed to look like that.  That’s why you add another cup or so of flour:

And stir it in.  I always do that by hand, but if you have a fancy pantsy stand mixer with a dough hook, you might as well use that instead.

See that lovely texture?  It’s on its way!

Today I added another half cup or so:

Thicker still…

At this point, a helper cat is optional but encouraged:

If you’ve got a breadboard, break it out now.  If not, make sure your counter is clean and dry, then flour it:

Just like so…

And turn your dough onto the board/counter for kneading (now we’re getting to the really exciting part!)

Lightly cover your dough-in-progress with flour, too:

And with your open flour canister at the ready (to add more flour to your worktable as needed), start kneading!

Here we go!

It’s at this point that I turn it over to video Katie, the much more awkward and less witty version of myself.  I have no editing skills so this is really quality, just forewarning.

Then after Jeff turned the camera off, I kneaded for a few minutes more, until I had this result:

Gawd I hate the sound of my own voice!

Anyway, here’s the dough resting in its greased bowl:

Cover with a cotton cloth (to keep the dough cat hair-free) and let rise until doubled–about 45 minutes or an hour:

Here’s how mine looked:

Then punch it down.  Since I’m sure you’re all bread pacifists and don’t know how to be violent toward dough, I’ve got one more super-handy video:

Well that was enjoyable.

Next, turn it out onto your breadboard/counter:

And roll it to about 18″ square:

And cut your square in half:

Grease two loaf pans (no don’t worry about using the stuff with flour–just grease or Pam is perfect)

Starting at one end, begin to roll one of your half-squares up, like you’re making a jelly roll:

There ya go:

Then tuck the ends under so they’re facing the bottom seam.  Here’s mine:

Bottom-side (seam side) down, place it in one of the loaf pans:

And do the same with the other half of the dough:

Rub the top of each loaf gently with that butter that earlier you set out to soften:

Yum.

See the buttery shinyness?  I promise this recipe is still low-fat.  Really.

Now it’s time to let your dough rise again.  After another hour on the counter, this is how mine looked:

Finally, it’s ready for the oven!  Your oven should be preheated to 425*F–I usually start warming mine up about half an hour after I started the dough’s second rising.  Also, the oven rack should be on a low setting–so once the loaves are in the oven, their tops will be at the middle.  I’ve drawn this handy diagram:

After about 30 or 35 minutes in the carefully structured oven, you’ll have this:

Time to break out the butter again!

Brush the loaves one more time, ’till they’re shiny enough to see your reflection (ok maybe not quite):

And you’re all done!  Yum!

I loooove this recipe–it’s so easy and basic, and it’s actually very little effort.  I know it seems like it takes forever since you have to account for rising time, but I’ll tell ya’ that while this batch was rising, I cleaned, did dishes, and went to my boss’s house and picked some stuff up…it’s not like you have to hover over your bread-in-progress or anything!  Though you can if you want to…I promise I won’t tell!

I’ve never used a bread machine, and with a recipe this simple I never will.  Homemade bread is so much yummier than store-bought, and healthier too–since it doesn’t have any of those yucky preservatives.

I’ll be trying a whole-wheat version soon–may have to adjust some of the amounts a bit to account for a denser flour.  I actually can’t believe I didn’t do that sooner!

Now, off to have a homemade bread and turkey bacon grilled cheese sandwich….yummy!

Love to hear if anyone tries this for themselves

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One response to “Make bread while the sun shines?

  1. SunflowerCrochet

    I just discovered your recipe section (I don’t know what took me so long!) and I’m really excited about trying some of these! I can’t seem to get your videos to work, though. I’m on an iPod touch, but that doesn’t usually cause problems. Are the videos still working okay?

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