Tuesday, March 23, 2010

White Bread

As mentioned in the previous post, I had a ton of fun making a delicious loaf of white bread yesterday. I followed a very basic recipe and did all the kneading by hand. The loaf turned out much better than I ever expected - it was so good, we actually ate more than half the loaf at dinner!

I am definitely going to try my hand at different bread variations in the next few weeks. I think the secret to a good loaf is using bread flour. I tried making bread a few years ago with all-purpose flour and it was very disappointing. The extra gluten and protein in the bread flour gave the loaf the chewy bread texture I like so much. And fresh bread straight from the oven - how can you go wrong?

White Bread
Adapted from Joy of Cooking
Yield: 1 loaf
Print recipe

1 cup warm water (115F to 125F)
1 package (2 1/4 tsp) quick-rising active dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp melted butter
2 3/4 cup bread flour
  1. Pour the water into a large mixing bowl.

  2. Sprinkle the yeast into the water. Let stand for a minute. Yeast should froth a little.

  3. Add the sugar, salt, and melted butter.

  4. Add 2 cups of the bread flour. Stir gently.

  5. Begin kneading the dough in the bowl. Gradually add in 1/4 cup at a time of the remaining bread flour. The dough should be moist but not sticky.

  6. Knead for about 10 minutes by hand on a floured surface until the dough is smooth and elastic.

  7. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn it over once to coat with oil.

  8. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place (75F to 80F) until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. The dough should not spring back when pressed.

  9. Grease an 8.5 x 4.5 inch (6 cup) loaf pan.

  10. Punch the dough down and knead slightly.

  11. Shape the dough into a rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick.

  12. Fold the long sides of the dough into the middle, overlapping slightly. Press the seam to seal.

  13. Transfer the dough, seam side down, to the pan.

  14. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. The dough should rise about 1 inch above the top of the pan.

  15. Preheat the oven to 450F.

  16. Bake the loaf for 10 minutes.

  17. Reduce the heat to 350F and bake for another 30 minutes, or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

  18. Let cool slightly, then remove loaf from pan to a rack to cool completely.

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