A couple of days ago I ran out of store-bought sliced bread. And so it begins…
One of the primary aspects of homesteading for us will be scratch cooking. I already do a fair amount of that out of love of cooking. But it takes on new meaning when you begin to realize the extent of what that means as part of this experiment.
If I’m going to be making bread on a regular basis I need to find a recipe we all like. It seems so many have shortening in them (Ick!). But I did find one I really liked in the book Knead It, Punch It, Bake It.
1 scant Tbsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 cups milk
2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup honey
6 1/2 – 7 cups unsifted, unbleached, organic all-purpose white flour
Put the yeast in a large bowl and pour the warm water over it. While yeast is dissolving, heat 1 cup of milk in a medium saucepan and stir in the salt, butter, and honey until dissolved. Turn off the heat, then stir in the remaining 1 1/2 cups of milk and let cool to the point that you can hold your finger in it. Pout the contents of the saucepan into the bowl with the dissolved yeast and stir gently to mix.
Start adding the flour one cup at a time until you notice the dough is getting hard to stir. At that point, turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and let the dough rest while you clean out your bowl.
Flour your hands and begin the kneading process, making sure you keep your hands well floured. Soon it will become less sticky.
If you’re a newbie to bread baking – to knead, you pick up the far side of the dough and fold it in half toward you. Then press into it with the heels of your hands, pushing it away from you. Turn the dough clockwise a quarter of the way around and knead again. Repeat the kneading and turning of the dough, adding more flour as necessary so it doesn’t stick. Don’t tug at the dough or pull it apart; it should stay roughly the shape of a ball. The amount of time you need varies, but it generally takes me about 7 minutes. Once it seems smooth and bouncy and no longer sticks to your hands or to the counter it is probably ready.
When the dough is ready, use a little soft butter to lightly grease your cleaned bowl. Put the dough in and turn it to coat all sides. Cover your bowl and leave the dough to rise. In about 1 1/4 hours, it will have risen to about twice its normal size (if it hasn’t yet, leave it to rise longer), punch it down and turn the dough out of your bowl. Make sure to grease you bread pans with a little soft butter before you take the dough out. Divide the dough in half to put into your bread pans. Gently shape each half to into an oval to fit your pan’s length, making sure to pinch the seams together on the bottom side. Place the loaves in your pans, seam side down. The pans will be about 2/3 full. Cover the pans loosely and let the dough rise again for about 50 minutes.
When the dough has been rising for about 30 minutes, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. When the rise time is up, put the loaves in the oven and cook them for around 40 minutes. When done, turn them out onto racks and let the bread cool thoroughly before slicing.
Did I fail to mention this bread was amazing? It was A.MAZ.ING. Yay for home baked bread!
UPDATE: I made this recipe again, only this time I substituted 3 cups of whole wheat flour for 3 cups of the white flour. It turned out so wonderfully that I’ll do that from now on! Yay!
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