Basic everyday bread
Bread is a comfort food that has been around for thousands of years, steeped in history, in every part of the world. For some reason though, it has been a misconto people that it is a time consuming process, only made possible by people willing to dedicate themselves to the endless learning curve that is baking. Nonsense. Bread can be done by anyone, and really should be. It is a cheap treat that will make family memories, the same memories I have from growing up. Everyone in my family can, and does participate in making our twice weekly production of our favourite breakfast bread. One person may measure and mix, while another might form it, while another might bake it. It does not fall to one person, and both my wife and I will start the process with out really thinking about it once we need to, just like doing laundry. The following is the recipe we use, along with directions for easy, everyday bread.
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons of sugar (can be honey, white sugar, or my favourite - molasses)
1 package or 1 tablespoon of active dry yeast
6 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons salt
Mixing the bread :
measure the water along with the sugar in the mixing bowl, sprinkle the yeast on top, and wait for the yeast to dissolve and start to foam, about seven minutes. Add the flour, butter, and salt, and mix on low speed, or speed suggested by your mixer, for eight minutes. If kneading by hand, it is ten to twelve minutes of hard work, I really suggest a good mixer if seriously doing this for a family on a regular basis. Once the mixing is done it is time to form your dough into a ball, try to make it smooth on top, but the yeast will work either way, cover with a damp cloth and wait. This is the only tricky period, in the heat of the summer it may take 45 minutes, but in winter it can take up to two hours, this is why it is up to the person who is home to take care of forming the bread. You can tell when it is done because the dough will look like a balloon, you can press down on it, but it will not deflate. If it does deflate, it means it was fermented too long, and your bread will be stale, and pale. Once it is ready, divide into two pieces, and make two rounds, then rest for ten minutes, covered with the cloth. Now form into loaves by rolling each into two rectangles, the same length as the pan, and about 1/4 inch thick or so. Roll the bread tight enough that there are no holes, and seal the seam by pressing it down with the palm of your hand. Place in the buttered pan, seam side down, and cover. Preheat your oven to 350 and again let rise for 1 hour or until the loaf has visibly risen and is above the pan. Bake for 45 minutes, then cool in the pan for five minutes or so and remove and cool on a wire rack.
Though the process can seem intimidating at first, after a couple times you will start to be able to read the dough, time it better, and just get used to the steps involved. This is like starting anything, perfection is not the goal, but the journey is. Even for a busy household, it is possible to do this, as the actual working time might be ten minutes at most. Need help, ask me questions and I will answer them, I am a trained pastry chef, and have been making bread since I was a teenager.