The weather is cold and damp. It’s Autumn and the sun sets so early. More and more we are staying inside our home with the wood stove crackling on the hearth. Time for me to turn the oven on and start baking bread again. I enjoy baking bread. A lot. There is something so earthy and centering about the process. The rhythm of kneading the dough until it offers up the right “feel.” Push, fold, quarter turn. Repeat, repeat and repeat. The patience needed to let it rise to just the perfect height. The incredible aroma that fills our house when homemade bread is baking. Cautiously tapping on the tops waiting for that “hollow” sound that means the bread has baked to perfection. Taking the golden loaves from the oven and setting them to cool for a minute before removing these beauties from their pans to cool. And then, of course, giving in to temptation and slicing into these luscious loaves way before they are cool and slathering them with butter! Nothing in the whole wide world is better than for your heart and soul than freshly baked home made bread. I shared a memory with Dan today about my mother baking bread. I was sent back 55 years to our kitchen on Berry Rd and can see it vividly. Bread hot from the oven and we four kids all clambering for the heel with its crisp crust and moist chewy center. The child who got that morsel was the child who got there first. I was the patient one who waited with Mom in that warm, love filled kitchen. Waited for her to pull that bread from the oven, look at me with a smile and take her knife, slice off that heel and offer it up covered in butter for the best treat ever! Sweet memories.
If you are a novice bread baker, I offer a couple of hints. Heat destroys Yeast, so the water you dissolve it in must be lukewarm. Never hot. Test it on your wrist, you should barely feel the warmth.
If your mixing bowl is cold, run it under some warm water. Adding the Yeast and dissolving water to a cold bowl will cool the Yeast too much.
I let my bread rise, covered with a clean tea towel, in the oven with just the oven light on to gently warm my oven.
First, I measure everything out and set all the pre-measured ingredients on my counter top. Then, I am ready to go with no delays.
Home Style Country White Bread
- Using my stand mixer with a dough hook, I get out a large mixing bowl and dissolve the Yeast in the lukewarm water. Add the Sugar, Salt, beaten Eggs and Oil. Stir in 3 Cups of Flour, then turn on the mixer and beat until smooth. Stir in enough of the remaining 3-1/2 to 4 Cups of Flour to form a soft dough.
- Scrape the dough onto a highly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. To check if the "knead" is complete, poke your finger into the dough. If the indentation stays, the dough is ready for the first rise.
- Grease another large mixing bowl. I use a bit of Vegetable Shortening, like Crisco. Place the dough in the bowl, turn it over to grease the top, and cover with a clean tea towel. Place the dough in the oven with the light on, set the timer for 60 minutes and wait.
- After 60 minutes, your dough should have risen to double in size. If it's not, that OK, just re-cover and wait another 10 minutes.
- Then, the fun part. Punch down that dough until it's deflated! Dump it onto your counter top and divide it in half. Shape into 2 equal sized loaves and carefully place in to 2 greased 9x5 inch loaf pans.
- Cover and place back in the oven to rise for another 60 minutes until doubled in size.
- Remove from the oven. Then heat your oven to 375°. Put the 2 loaf pans back in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. The tops should be a lovely golden brown Remove from the oven to cooling racks and remove from the pans. Let cool completely before wrapping in plastic wrap for storage.
- However, before storing your bread, make sure you slice into a warm loaf, slather with butter and treat yourself to something amazingly delicious!
- Thank you again for stopping by today! Some days our journey will only be as far as our kitchens. But the ability and desire to make bake up something visually lovely and delightfully delicious is its own reward. Until next time, Journey On!
- Hugs and much love from me, Karen, TJG Please stop by my website and leave me a comment. I enjoy hearing from you all. www.thejourneygirl.com