Yesterday was a beautiful day, a teaser for better days to come, sunny, mild, spring-like. Alas, today we returned to winter with a jolt as another snow storm swept through. The snow began in the morning and continued with determination all day long. *Heavy sigh.* To make the most of being shut in for yet another snowy day, I took a notion to make bread.
Here’s the yeast proofing in warm water. I’m not a big bread maker, and more often choose to bake focaccia or a braided pull-apart loaf that we enjoy, but today I went with two simple white loaves that I make occasionally for a change. It’s a simple recipe that I’ve had good results with.
Here’s the dough after the first rise, ready to punch down. Some cookbooks wax eloquent over the joys of kneading bread. So relaxing! So meditative! All I’ve ever got out of it was sore wrists! I only started baking bread with any regularity after I purchased a stand mixer. I bought the mixer after many, many years of doing everything by hand. What a wonder! It takes the drudgery of kneading out of bread making. Having no experience with stand mixers, I bought a low-end model. If I were doing it again, I’d buy the best and largest I could afford. A stand mixer is a very worth-while investment for anyone who bakes regularly.
Here are the two loaves in their pans, ready for the second rise. Bread making doesn’t really take much active time, but you have to be available to process the dough after a couple of rises and wait while it bakes. I can sit and read a book for the afternoon while my dough rises and still feel virtuous, confident that I am achieving something even as I sip my tea and turn pages.
Here are the two loaves, fresh from the oven and lifted from their pans to cool. Below you’ll see one of the sliced loaves. I often serve fresh bread with soup, but tonight we had it with pasta. If you’d like to make your own, here’s the recipe.
Two Loaves of White Bread
2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
2/3 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup oil
6 cups bread flour (I used all purpose organic flour today)
In a large bowl (mixer bowl), dissolve the sugar in warm water and
then stir in the yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles
a creamy foam.
Mix salt and oil into the yeast. Add 5 cups of flour.
Knead with mixer until smooth. Add additional cup of
flour gradually as needed to produce smooth dough.
Place in a well-oiled bowl and turn dough to coat. Cover
with a damp cloth and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch down dough. Knead a few minutes and then divide in two.
Shape into loaves and place into two well-oiled 9×5 loaf pans.
Allow to rise for 30 minutes or until dough has risen
1 inch above pans. Preheat oven to 350.
Bake at 350 x 30 minutes.