Baking bread is an important skill to master. I’m not talking about putting ingredients in a bread maker, pressing a button and then waiting for the bread to be made either. I’m talking about actually baking your own bread from scratch. Not only is homemade bread a lot healthier for you, but kneading the bread is also good exercise!
Have you ever looked at all of the ingredients there are on a bread label? There are many more ingredients than necessary can be found in a loaf of bread. I find it a little scary that there are ingredients other than salt that are sourced from mines rather than the bounty of an annual harvest.
There are many recipes out there, but I would suggest that beginning bread makers try this simple recipe first before trying other recipes. I like to call this recipe, “No Fail Bread” mostly because I’ve never had it turn out badly. I got the recipe from a Mennonite friend of mine and she also says that she’s never had it fail for her either.
No Fail Bread
Yield: 1 loaf
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup instant milk power (1/4 cup potato flakes can be used if necessary)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons or 1 package yeast
2 tablespoons oil
1 1/4 cup warm water
2 1/2 cups flour
Combine 1 cup flour, sugar, milk powder, salt and yeast in a bowl. Add the oil and warm water. Beat on medium for 2 minutes or mix by hand. Add the remaining flour a little at a time and stir or mix after each addition. Mix for 2 minutes after each addition. Turn onto a floured surface and knead for 8 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean towel and let the bread rest for 20 minutes. Shape into a loaf and put in a greased loaf pan. Brush the top with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and the clean towel again and let it rise for 40 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until the loaf is done. Let it cool on a wire rack after baking.
Here are some tips for successfully baking bread:
Make sure that the water you use when baking is warm; hot water and cold water can really affect the yeast in the bread. Test the water on your wrist, if it is too hot for you, then it is too hot for the yeast. Heat isn’t yeast’s friend.
Make sure that you let the bread rise for the full amount of time and that you knead the bread for as long as the recipe states, sometimes it may take longer, make sure the bread has doubled in size before you bake with it. The temperature of your house can make a large impact on how fast bread rises.
You can use bread flour if available, bread flour is specially designed to raise beautifully with the high content of protein that it has, or you can use all purpose flour to make your bread.
Yeast can be stored in the freezer to keep it fresh.
Let the bread rise in a warm place free from drafts, I love to put mine on top of my refrigerator. It is away from most anything, and it tends to be a little warmer on top of my refrigerator.