I am fascinated with baking bread.
The process of baking bread is easier once you understand the science behind it. So I’ll give you a simple breakdown.
Fermentation occurs when yeast eats all the sugar goodness from starches, like flour, and produces all those carbon dioxide gas bubbles. Those little bubbles are our friends in bread making. They are the ‘leavener’ and they give the bread its texture.
Yeast is a LIVING, single-cell plant. So it needs to grow in order to do its job. No better way to make something grow than feed it, right? Well, yeast eats sugars to grow. So… let’s think about it for a minute. Flour is a carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are full of starch molecules. Starch molecules are made up of oodles and bunches of sugar molecules. In other words, CARBS=SUGARS!
When you combine the yeast and water, the yeast becomes activated. Adding a little sugar to the yeast and water will feed the sugar and encourage faster growth. Then you add the flour. At this point, somehow all the flour enzymes break down the carbohydrates into sugar. The yeast then eats these sugars, which allows it to produce the little carbon dioxide gas bubbles and alcohol. At this point, you’ll begin to notice that your gassy bubbly mixture becomes stringy. Once you add and knead more flour into the mixture, those ‘stringy’ strands become your elasticity in your bread, also known as gluten strands, or protein.During the baking process, the carbon dioxide gases and alcohol from the fermentation process bake out.
I guess what I’m saying is… don’t be intimidated by the bread making process. It really is quite simple. And as long as you follow a few simple rules of thumb, your bread should do it’s thing and turn out just fine.
Always make sure you are using good yeast. I always store my yeast in the fridge in a sealed Tupperware container. It keeps it fresh for a long time. I prefer to buy my yeast in large packages from Sam’s Club. The yeast does not need to be stored in the fridge until it has been opened.
Always use good quality flour. I don’t use bread flour. I have never tried it. I just prefer a good All-purpose unbleached flour.
Always place bread in a warm area of your home, free from drafts. You can warm your dishtowel in the dryer to place over the dough to give it a head start in rising.
I have simplified this recipe so whether you are a beginning bread maker or a seasoned one, this recipe will work for you.
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 3 Tbsp yeast
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cube butter
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3 Tbsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups cold water
- 9+cups flour
In a large mixing bowl, combine warm water, yeast and 1/2 tsp sugar. Let set aside for yeast to activate.
In a medium-size glass bowl, combine milk, butter, salt and 1/3 cup sugar. Microwave uncovered for 3-4 minutes, until butter is melted.
Add cold water to mixture in glass bowl. Combine with yeast mixture.
Add 9 cups flour to mixture. It should still be pretty gooey, which is fine.
Spread a couple cups flour on your countertop surface. Using a spatula to get every bit of dough out of the bowl, put dough onto floured surface. Sprinkle a cup of flour over the dough. Now knead. Add flour as needed. You want to knead until it’s nice and elastic but not tough. I prefer it to be just barely not sticky. It will be a soft dough. Knead for 10 minutes.
Grease the large bowl you mixed it in. You can spray it with a PAM spray to make it easy. Place dough back in bowl. Grease the top of the dough slightly. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and a dishtowel.
Place in a warm place and let rise. Once risen to double, punch down and let rise again. Once the dough has doubled again, punch down and put onto floured surface. Pat dough out onto flour surface. With a sharp, non-serrated knife, cut into 4 equal pieces.
Roll each piece into a roll. (Like a cake roll) Pinch ends together and tuck under ends. Place in greased bread pans.
Let rise until doubled in size.
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.
* If you like a darker crust, bake at 375 for the first 30 minutes, the reduce heat to 350 and bake for 15 minutes.
Immediately remove bread from pans onto wire rack and butter tops of loaves.
This recipe is by far the tastiest white bread I have ever made. I bake a batch every single Sunday. It’s a great sandwich bread and it makes some seriously delicious toast!
Lots of love,