Friday, March 9, 2012

My Bread Recipe

I have made bread my whole life.  I remember helping my mom while standing on a stool, so I know I was fairly young . . . 4 or 5 maybe.  I haven't always made it consistently--sometimes it will be a few months between batches and while I was attending college I probably only made it 1 or 2 times a year.

I am often surprised at the reaction I get from people when they learn I make bread.  "Wow, you're talented" "I could never take the time to do that" "it is way too hard for me" and one last week when a guy came in with my husband {and the bread was cooling on our table}  "Wow, homemade bread, you're a lucky man.".  Little did he notice the pile of laundry waiting {patiently} to be folded or the floor that needed to be swept . . .

The past 2 years or so, I have been fairly consistent with making all the bread my family eats.  Not only bread, but also rolls, buns, cinnamon rolls, pizza crust, breadsticks, etc. etc. etc.  all out of the same recipe.

Today, I'm sharing my recipe & later I'll give you a few specifics on other things you can do with the dough.  I promise it is EASY.  {SERIOUSLY}  If you're lucky enough to own a good mixer machine (like mine) it is even EASIER for you!  I'm going to give the directions assuming you're using your strong little biceps to knead this wad of dough, but periodically, {in parenthesis},  I'll give a couple of tips for the machine owners.

BREAD

5 cups warm water
3/4 cup sugar OR 1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 Tablespoons lecithin
3 Tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 Tablespoons salt
1/2 cup wheat gluten
3 Tablespoons ground flax seed
13 cups flour (approximately)

Mix the water, sugar, lecithin, yeast, salt, gluten and flax seed and about 5-6 cups flour.  I like to stir all of this with a wire whisk {use a whisk attachment in your machine at this point}.







Gradually add in the rest of the flour and start mixing with your hands.  Add flour and flour and mix and stir until it is no longer sticking to you and the bowl.  After you've got all of the flour incorporated, set your timer and knead it for 8 minutes.  To knead, just press down and away from you, then gather in the sides and do it again and again.  For 8 minutes.  I know that seems like a long time, but you're trying to build up the gluten in the bread and it makes for WAY better bread if you will do this part. After you've incorporated the flour, don't keep adding flour when a little sticks to you.  Instead use oil--a tablespoon in the bottom of the bowl and on your hands works wonders & doesn't make the dough too tough.  {With a machine, change your attachment to a dough hook and add in the rest of the flour.   Then, set it to medium speed and let it mix for 4 minutes -- assuming you don't have a programed 'bread' setting.}

Now you're ready to form the dough.  I like to cut my dough into 5 sections (the original recipe called for 4 loaves, but the bread it made didn't fit in my toaster, so I make each loaf a little smaller)  I like to make sure that they are 'even' by putting the palm of my hand over each lump of dough.  You can tell if one is way smaller or bigger (don't stress about getting them perfectly even!) Then form them into loaves.  One way to do this is to roll it like a snake (like you used to do with play dough) but only the length of the pan.  Set them in the greased bread pans and let sit for 20 minutes.  Turn on your oven to 350*-375* (depending on your oven) Put your bread in when you're oven is heated and bake for about 20 minutes-or until lightly browned.  Take out, let sit for 5 minutes, rub with butter (to make top nice and pretty) and take out of pans to completely cool.

I have SERIOUSLY never had something in-edible come from this recipe (sometimes it is better than others, but that is LIFE!)  If it doesn't work, or you feel you need more help or have a question, PLEASE e-mail me  lorene{at}yourvinylgraphics{dot}com -- I PROMISE I don't mind.  I would be happy if EVERYONE reading this blog started to make their own bread every time they needed it.  I LOVE self sufficiency :)

A few important tips:  

Yeast: I use instant yeast--I just mix it in with the rest of my ingredients and don't give it another thought. After I open a bag, I store it in a jar in my fridge or freezer.





Lecithin:  a LOT of people don't know what this is--and neither do I really.  I know it is something made from plants and/or animals that helps water and fat to mix.  All I know is that my bread is moister, {is that a word?} and fresher for longer when I use it.  

Vital Wheat Gluten:  A natural protein found in wheat.  It helps make your dough more 'elastic'.  

Flax Seeds:  They're TERRIFIC for you, you can't taste them and they don't cost that much.  I just recently added this to my recipe and use them in EVERYTHING I can think of.

Flour:  I mostly use a combination of white and wheat.  I don't measure if it is exactly half and half, but that is generally what the ratio is.  If your family only likes white flour, or only wheat, either way is delicious.  A tip if you grind your own wheat.  Grind what you need--then before you put away your grinder--grind enough to fill up 3 or 4 freezer bags full of it.  Store it in your freezer and I promise you'll use it more often if you don't have to get out all of the 'stuff' it takes to grind wheat!

'Warm' Water:  Don't freak out too much about the temperature--just warmer than you would want to drink and colder than boiling--somewhere in that range :)

Nothing says 'love' like a hot piece of HOMEMADE bread--so try it today!

Remember . . . 

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