Sheesh! This post is a doozy, and pretty much gives up all of my secrets so that no one will be impressed with my bread ever again.
And if you are thinking to your self- that there is no way in a-loaf-of-bread-is-only-a-couple-bucks-at-the-store that you are ever going to make your own bread… then feel free to skip this post.
However, homemade bread also = homemade cinnamon rolls and homemade dinner rolls and homemade garlic breadsticks…
Hmmm… I wonder why I can’t lose weight? It must be my thyroid!
Part 1: Tips and Tricks
I learned how to make bread from two wonderful women who happen to be LDS housewives!
I would have to say that in general as a religious group, LDS (Mormon) women are the best bread makers around!
Well, maybe the Amish beat them? Any of my Mormon readers care to weigh in?
Anyhow, some of the tricks they shared have been super helpful to me and really make the difference between my success and failure in the bread department!
A Bread Making Device: I have actually made bread by hand quite a few times, and I still do sometimes if I have a small batch of dough, but if you are going to do it with any kind of regularity, you are going to need a machine!
People are divided as to their favorites. I am a Bosch girl myself- not as pretty, but actually more powerful than a Kitchenaid.
However some people swear by their Kitchenaid and maaaaan are they sexy sitting on your counter top!
(Caitlin needs to get out more.)
Gluten Flour: Makes your bread more elastic and less crumbly, plus seems to give it a better rise. A lot of discount stores (Winco if you are in the north western part of the US) has this in their bulk food bins. Otherwise, you can find it in your baking aisle.
Add a Tb for every cup or so of flour. This reduces the flour you use by about 1/4 c.
EXAMPLE: I have a bread recipe that calls for 6 cups flour- so I use 6 Tb Gluten flour and then only add closer to 5 1/2 or 5 3/4 c. flour.
DO NOT ADD TOO MUCH FLOUR: Don’t even add as much as the recipe calls for unless you have to!
Too much flour = a small hard loaf.
Add a few cups of flour and fire up your mixer. Then keep adding more a little at a time until the bread dough cleans the bottom and sides of the mixer. Then STOP! You want it to still feel sticky when you touch it!
Let it sit: Once you have added all your ingredients, let the goop sit for a while before you start kneading it / turn on your mixer. It will shorten the mixing time.
PAM: If you knead by hand- even if it is just in the last stages when you are forming loaves- use PAM instead of flour. Spray Pam (or other non stick spray of course) on the counter, on your hands and get to work!
Kneading it with flour you run the risk of adding too much! And see above about that.
Powdered Milk: For some reason that I am too lazy to explore, powdered milk tends to give bread a better, lighter rise than regular milk. Plus, if you are LDS (or TRex Mom?), it is a great way to make use of that food storage powdered milk!
Rise in warm place!: I actually find the oven to be my best place. I set it to warm while I mix up the dough, then turn it off and put the loaf pans in, covered with a towel. A much faster rise than just on the counter top! Some people swear by using the microwave instead!
Paint the loaves!: Once the bread comes out of the oven, paint it with either milk or butter (ooh!) so that as it cools the crust stays soft. I usually use milk just to be healthy, but sometimes (and always with rolls!) I use butter and it is just delish!
If you are making french bread, paint it with water BEFORE you bake it! It gives it a nice crusty…crust.
Let ‘em cool: If you can wait, you should let the loaves fully cool before you slice them.
If you slice them when they are too warm, then the loaf will collapse a bit and have a mushy center later.
This definitely does not apply if you are going to – say- eat an entire loaf of cheddar onion bread with your dinner. In that case- dig in while it is piping hot!
.(Finger paint bottles in the background. Such is my life!)
Part 2: Just Give Us the Recipe Already!
Obviously there are about a million bread recipes out there- and everyone has their favorite. Actually, please email me your favorite/ leave them in the comments if you have time!
I make many different kinds of bread, but this is my go-to bread recipe that I make the most.
In fact, I don’t even have to look at the recipe to write it down! Awww! Good housewife! Good!
It makes 2 loaves and they last us a week. I use them for sandwiches, toast, everything!
Harvest House Bread
2 c. whole wheat flour (sometimes I add more)
2-4 c. white flour (see above about the flour addition)
1 c. oats (I use old fashioned Quaker)
6 Tb Gluten Flour
1/4 c. powdered milk
1/3 c. oil
1/3 c. brown sugar
2 1/4 tsp salt
3 c. WARM water
1 1/2 Tb. yeast
Add the ingredients as directed by your mixer. I add the yeast and water first, and let it sit as I get out everything else. Then I add the liquid ingredients with the flour last of all.
Let sit for a couple minutes, then mix ‘er up, adding only as much flour as needed to clean the bowl.
If you don’t have a mixer, let it rise after kneading. Sometimes I still let it “rest” for a couple of minutes.
If you do, then dump out onto the counter, form into two loaves, (make a jelly roll and then tuck in the ends-makes a nice smooth top!), and let rise in a warm place until double.
Bake at 350 until it looks done – I actually never set the timer!
I am certainly no expert- this is just what has worked for me.
Anyone else have any other tricks to add? Please share!