How-To Tuesday: The Secret to Baking Homemade Bread

classic white sandwich bread

classic white sandwich bread

Avoiding carbohydrates is very difficult for me.  Its true that when I do, I feel better, have more energy and lose some inches from my waistline.  But, bread is my kryptonite.  I love it.  Dunked in olive oil, slathered with mayo and made into a sandwich, or even toasted with some butter, bread is my best friend.

I will admit; I don’t eat bread often because I consider it a treat.  But, when I do, it has to be the good stuff.  I don’t think I have ever even tried a piece of Wonder Bread.  Yup, won’t touch it with a ten foot pole.  If I have bread, it has to be a hot crusty ciabatta, a warm baguette, a freshly baked bagel or even Naan dipped in tikka masala sauce. 

Ok, I know I sound like a food snob, but so be it.  If I am going to have carb guilt, it better be worth it.  So, when I’m inclined, I bake bread.  Yup, it’s easy, fast and will be worth every last bite.  No additives, no preservatives and piping hot from the oven, once you bake bread, you might actually contemplate quitting your day job and opening a bakery on Main Street.  Ok, maybe not that, but if you bake it once, I promise, you’ll bake it again.

**Recipe from King Arthur Flour because their recipes are top notch and so is their company.  You can also buy dry milk powder from the site.

Classic White Sandwich Bread

Ingredients:

1 cup + 2 tablespoons to 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water*

1 heaping tablespoon honey

2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast

1 3/4 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons soft butter

4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

1/3 cup Baker's Special Dry Milk or 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk granules

*Use the lesser amount in summer or humid climates; the greater amount in winter or drier climates.

Directions:

Mix all of the ingredients in the order listed, and mix and knead — by hand, or using a stand mixer — to make a smooth dough. It won't be particularly soft nor stiff; it should be smooth and feel bouncy and elastic under your hands.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or other container. Cover it, and let it rise at room temperature until it's very puffy, 1 to 2 hours.

Gently deflate the dough, and shape it into a fat 9" log. Place it in a lightly greased 9" x 5" loaf pan.

Cover the pan, and let the dough rise for 60 to 90 minutes, till it's crowned 1" to 1 1/2" over the rim of the pan. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the bread for 20 minutes. Tent it lightly with aluminum foil, and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, till it's golden brown. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will read 195°F to 200°F.

Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out onto a rack to cool. When completely cool, wrap in plastic, and store at room temperature.

Yield: 1 large loaf, about 18 servings.

Buon Appetito!