As some of you know, I have an interesting relationship with baking with yeast. Sometimes I even turn French Bread into paddles. Not good.
Recently reader Amanda approached me and asked if she could share how she makes bread easily. Um, yes, Amanda…PLEASE do!!
What encouraged me most of all? Amanda sent some photos of how she improved her bread-making technique.
Here’s her first attempt:
And after a little practice:
And after lots of practice. Can’t you totally see how she’s improved? I am totally impressed!
And these are the tools she uses:
And here’s Amanda’s notes and recipe:
I use a stand mixer and knead my dough by hand. If you do not have a stand mixer (and they are quite expensive), you can use a handheld mixer with whisk and dough hook attachments and a large bowl (and some patience, as it is a little more difficult that way-I invested in my mixer last month when our Permanent Fund Dividends came and it’s been worth every penny).
Amish White Bread
- 2 cups warm water (110 deg F, I use a meat thermometer to check the temp)
- 1/2 cup of white sugar
- 1 & 1/2 Tablespoons active dry yeast (Fleischmanns jar, just make sure it isn’t the instant-rise kind)
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 4-5 cups of bread flour (I use all purpose flour and it works well also; I start with all 5 cups because I haven’t really measured the exact amount that goes into the dough; see step 3)
1. In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in the warm water, then stir in yeast. Allow the yeast to proof for about 5-6 minutes (it will resemble a creamy foam).
2. Mix salt and oil into the yeast mixture.
3. Mix in flour, one cup at a time. (I start with the whisk attachment because it will mix the flour in better. Once the mixture gets thick, I switch to the dough hook. Trust me when I say trying to mix all the way with the whisk will cause you nothing but headache!) When the dough hook “catches” the dough and forms a ball that doesn’t stick much to the side of the bowl, that’s a sign that you’ve added enough flour. It’s usually roughly 4.5 cups for me and I use the left over 1/2 cup to flour my kneading surface.
4. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and form into a large ball (when you are done mixing, the dough will be a little sticky, so it’ll be a good idea to just flour your hands as well. When done with this step, leave the floury surface if you can, you’ll need it again.)
5. Place in a well oiled bowl (coat the bottom, doesnt take much), turn to coat dough. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in bulk. (The recipe says for an hour, but I’ve found it takes about an hour and a half to get a good rise at room temperature.)
6. After it has risen, punch dough down. Knead again on your floured surface, adding a bit more flour if needed because you will need to soak up the oil. (I split my dough in half at this point because this recipe yields 2 loaves, and smaller balls of dough are easier to work with.)
7. Shape into loaves and place into 2 well greased 9×5 inch loaf pans. (The best way to grease the pans is to take a dab of shortening to each inside surface and rub into the pan until it’s a light coating on the inside and top handles/rim of pan that bread might touch-found that one out the hard way too lol.)
8. Allow to rise for about 45 min, or until the dough has risen to about 1 inch above pans-metal meatloaf pans work best (this is also a great time to heat the oven, and set the pans on the stove top, as the heat will allow for a slightly quicker rise time. Be sure to check on it every now and then, otherwise you might end up with gargantuan bread that has lots of air pockets!)
9. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 min.
10. Cool on a wire rack or cookie sheet for about 2-3 hours (if you can resist slicing right into it *I highly advise waiting for it to cool if you don’t want it to fall apart), then cut into slices with a serrated knife. I use Fred Meyer’s brand Food & Bread storage bags (perfect size) and leftover twist ties from hot dog bun bags (I have not attempted hot dog buns yet because quite frankly, I’m a little scared to try!)
This recipe courtesy of www.allrecipes.com, but I have tweaked the original a bit! This bread freezes well, if you like to store things for future use like I do! I have also made this dough into rolls (by shaping into balls about the size of a golf ball and baking in a couple casserole dishes) and hamburger buns by brushing butter on top and sprinkling with sesame seeds (bulk spice that is not very expensive for a regular spice jar’s worth!). It will beat out any hamburger bun you’ve ever bought.
This process takes about 3.5 hours from start to finish, and can seem very tedious at first. If you have the time (or on a weekend off, day off, etc) I encourage you to try it. Once you get the hang of it, it’s really not as hard as it sounds. My kids love their special “Mom Bread” in their school lunches. I love to cook and experiment with food, especially if there is a way that it’ll help me save money!
Amanda, thank you so very much for the time and effort you took to share this with me and my readers! I plan on trying your recipe very soon, and you’ve encouraged me to not give up on the pursuit of breadmaking. Thank you!
PS – readers, I would love to feature some of your guest posts on frugal living – perhaps on DIY, cooking/baking, home decor, etc! Please email me at angela @ thecouponproject dot com if you have an idea.