Ahh, the smell of homemade bread….

7 Feb

(Seriously, isn’t the smell of homemade bread the BEST?!)

Bread and yeast and all that it entails has always been my cooking phobia.  Don’t kill the yeast, knead it, let it rise… so much work!  Today on this craptastic snowy day (I’m in Arizona mode, remember?), I decided to give it a whirl!  How hard could it be, right?  Well let me tell you…. not very hard at all!  I revisited the same blog I got my cupcake recipe from, and found exactly what I was looking for!  This recipe uses an electric stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, which made my bread-phobic life so much easier!  With the dough hook, it eliminates the 6-10 minutes of hand-kneading.

American Sandwich Bread (a.k.a. White Bread)
(adapted from The Brown Eyed Baker)

3 1/2 cups flour (plus a tablespoon more to dust the work surface)
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup warm milk (about 110 degrees)
1/3 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
3 tablespoons honey
1 packet (about 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast

Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Once the oven temperature gets to 200 degrees, leave it on for 10 minutes, then turn off the oven.

Mix 3½ cups of flour, salt and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix the milk, water, butter, and honey in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Turn the machine to low and slowly add the liquid. When the dough comes together, increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough is smooth and satiny, stopping the machine two or three times to scrape dough from hook, about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on your mixer!!! Once the dough forms, it is like having an unbalanced load in the washing machine and the mixer jumps all over the counter! (After 5 minutes of kneading, if the dough is still sticking to the sides of the bowl, add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time and up to ¼ cup total, until the dough is no longer sticky. This will vary with every kitchen – I only needed an extra tablespoon to get it to stop sticking.) Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface; knead to form a smooth, round ball, about 15 seconds.

Place the dough in an oiled large bowl, rubbing the dough around the bowl to coat lightly. Cover the bowl with a towel and place in the warmed oven until the dough doubles in size, 40 to 50 minutes.

Once the dough has risen, plop it down on the floured work surface again and gently press the dough into a rectangle 1 inch thick and no longer than 9 inches. With a long side facing you, roll the dough firmly into a cylinder, pressing with your fingers to make sure the dough sticks to itself. Turn the dough seam-side up and pinch it closed. Place the dough seam-side down in a greased 9 by 5-inch loaf pan and press it gently so it touches all four sides of the pan. Cover with a towel and set aside in a warm spot (I used the oven again) until the dough almost doubles in size, 20 to 30 minutes.

Keep one oven rack at the lowest position and place the other at the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place an empty glass baking pan on the bottom rack. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a liquid measuring cup in the microwave (about 6 minutes). Pour the boiling water into the empty pan on the bottom rack and set the loaf onto the middle rack. Bake about 40 to 50 minutes. I used my mom’s bread test to figure out when it’s done – she “thumps” it. Basically you flick the center of the loaf of bread with your fingers – it will sound hollow and will feel firm if you push down on it. Remove the bread from the pan, transfer to a wire rack, and cool to room temperature. Slice and serve with lots of butter!

I LOVED THIS BREAD! I honestly could have just cut it in half lengthwise, slathered it with butter and pigged out! YUM! I’m so glad I decided to face my fear, and bake this bread! I can’t wait to make it for Matt in a few weeks!

Happy Dishing!

~Des

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