I’ve been making our bread at home for a while now. I actually can’t even remember the last time I bought bread from the store. And there are definitely hard ways and easy ways to do it, all with a relatively equally great product, but this is by far my favorite right now. Yeah, so it’s white bread–not wheat, not multigrain–but my kids (and hubby!) DEVOUR it. And compared to most bread recipes out there that are actually good, it is super easy to make (and so versatile)! Plus, when you compare it to the store-bought version, it’s cheaper–and definitely healthier.
Now, I know at first glance this looks like a pretty lengthy post to make an “easy” recipe, but after reading it through once you should be able to just glance at it while making your bread. It can seem pretty complicated when you’re just starting out making your own bread, but with the step-by-step instructions and photos below you should have no problem. :) And feel free to comment at the end of this post if you have any questions!
First thing you’ll need is a stand mixer like my handy KitchenAid. I am really hoping to upgrade to the professional version soon since I use this one pretty much every single day, and, well, it’s time lol… But it was given to me by my mom (therefore no money was spent by me), and you can’t get much better than that. ;) You CAN do the kneading by hand, but I’ve found it to be SO much easier in one of these.
These are the ingredients you’ll need (plus a little water). And yes, please use King Arthur Flour–it totally makes a difference in the quality (and healthiness) of your bread.
Please excuse the mess, our kitchen is under construction… When we bought this house a few months ago (short sale), they had remodeled the entire house, right up to the kitchen–when the guy lost his job. So the plan is to start OUR remodel in May, but for now it’s a little mish-mash as we acquire appliances etc. Still fully functional, just… Not pretty. Haha.
First, put 6 cups of flour, 4 teaspoons of yeast, 2-1/2 teaspoons of salt, and 6 tablespoons of sugar in the mixing bowl (I always use the large one for breads, especially since most recipes make 2 loaves). Combine.
Then put 1-1/2 cups of milk and 3/4 cup of water (totaling 2-1/4 cups) in a large measuring cup or other microwave-safe container, and put your stick of butter in a separate (again, microwave-safe) container. You’re going to be heating both of these.
First, melt the butter. My microwave usually does it in about a minute flat, but you’ll want to do about 30 seconds at a time until it’s melted (unless you already know how long your microwave takes to melt a stick of butter :)).
Set the butter aside and put the milk and water mixture in the microwave. This part is slightly tricky, but not hard. Nuke it 15-30 seconds at a time until it’s just SLIGHTLY warm to the touch (about 100°F for you perfectionists ;)). I usually stir it around a bit with a clean finger to make sure it’s that temp all the way through. My microwave does it in about three 30 second segments, but again, you’ll want to adjust that based on what works for you. Just make sure it’s not too hot or your bread won’t come out right at all! Believe me, I’ve made this mistake…
Now, turn the mixer on a low speed with the dough hook attachment, and start pouring the wet ingredients in from the side.
It probably won’t all blend at first, I usually have to take a spatula to the side of the bowl–but after that you can pretty much let it go for a few minutes (monitoring to make sure it doesn’t go over the side of the bowl or the top of the dough hook).
Now, as you can see in the last photo there, the dough still looks pretty sticky. If this happens to you, just add a couple tablespoons of flour at a time until it softens up, pulls away from the sides of the bowl, and barely sticks to your finger.
Remove the dough hook and cover tightly with plastic wrap, then let it sit in a warm place for an hour. The dough should rise until it just barely touches the plastic wrap, but if it’s just a little shorter or higher it’s not that big of a deal.
While I was waiting for my dough to rise, hubby and I toasted up the last of the previous batch of bread I made for a late breakfast while the kiddos played, and the littlest nursed and went down for a morning nap. (Yes, I’m still in yoga pants.)
Next, spray a clean surface with butter spray. Dump your dough out onto it, and shape into a rectangle. Doesn’t have to be perfect–the goal is just to separate it into two relatively equal loaves (which I do carefully with a sharp knife).
Now comes the fun part. You want to roll each section tightly toward you, then pinch the edges together. If you don’t roll them tight enough, they will have air pockets after they bake–so just make sure you’re pressing the dough into itself as you roll.
The hard part is over. Plop both rolled loaves into 9×5 bread pans (pre-greased–I just spray mine with more of the butter spray), pressing into the edges slightly, and cover with plastic wrap again.
You’re going to let these rise about another 40 minutes in a warm place before you preheat the oven to 350°F (when they have risen to about an inch above the sides of the pan). Put both loaves in as soon as the oven reaches the full temperature.
They should bake for 30-40 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Turn them about halfway through (when they’re just starting to brown), so they bake evenly.
Remove from pans and cool on a wire rack for at least an hour. Don’t those look gorgeous?! :)
That’s all there is to it. I make two loaves about every 2-3 days for our family of 5. It may seem a bit complicated starting out, but there’s really very little “active” time in the kitchen, so even though I’m constantly darting off somewhere to change a diaper or settle an argument with our 3 littles, I still have no problem making it. Let me know if you have any questions, and happy bread baking!
This recipe was modified from the white bread recipe in The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making by Alana Chernila.