In a fit of domesticity, I baked a loaf of white bread from scratch last night. I was inspired by Forrest, who made his own bread the night before. He kept interrupting himself on the phone to murmur about how tasty his bread was. I got jealous, so I baked up some of my own.
I followed S. John Ross's bread recipe, which is very simple but also explains some of the why of the ingredients and where you can modify the recipe for different results. That's the kind of recipe/instruction I like. :)
Basic Bread (small loaf)
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 rounded cups flour
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
Dissolve sugar and salt in water in a large bowl. Sprinkle in yeast and let sit for 10 minutes. Add butter.
Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Move to a floured bread board or countertop. By hand, continue adding flour until the dough is a smooth, homogeneous mass.
Set in a warm place (such as a warmed oven), covered, to rise for 45 minutes. Take out, punch down (using flour as necessary if it's become sticky), form into the desired loaf shape, then put back in the warm place, covered, to rise for another 45 minutes.
Bake in a non-preheated oven at 350 °ree;F for 30-45 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove from oven, brush lightly with melted butter or olive oil, then let sit to cool for 1 hour. Enjoy!
Yield: 1 small loaf.
Source: S. John Ross.
I took photos as I went; you can check out each step on my Flickr page.
Midway through the first rising step, I called up Forrest and talked with him about what the consistency of the dough should be. He agreed that the bread was probably a little too dry. I took it out of the oven, added a tiny bit of water to it (maybe a tablespoon?), mixed it up until it was doughlike, then put it back to rise some more. This interruption of its rising step probably accounts for why it didn't double in size like it was supposed to the first time, but rose just fine when left alone for its second bout of 45 minutes.
Okay... so I have a confession... As you can see evidenced in the photo here, I really like eating bread dough. Really like it. I'd been snacking on little bits of it as I kneaded it, but I wanted more after it was already nice and loaf-shaped. Well, this is my bread, so I can snatch off an end piece and make the loaf misshapen if I want to! :) This is why the finished bread isn't quite as symmetric at its two ends as you might expect.
Next, I'm thinking of making my own Auntie Anne's pretzels. Mmm...