I'm in love with baking bread (don't tell my mountain boy.....actually- he already knows). Fresh bread from the oven is truly heaven. Baking bread is one of those skills that my sweet daughter told me she has to learn how to do before she gets married or goes out on her own. I'm happy to comply. And as you can tell from the 100's of responses to the recent post I wrote about baking bread (not!) others are wanting to bake bread too but either don't know how or think it takes too much time. I usually bake bread when I'm doing other things at home (like cleaning house- BLECK or running errands around town. I'll run an errand and come home and complete a step. Then run out again.....you get the idea.) There are lots of bread recipes out there but this one only uses basic ingredients that most people already have in their pantry. (Well, except for the packet of yeast. Not everybody has yeast just laying around in the pantry. So go get some at the store. It only costs a few cents. Go right now. The bread is WORTH IT!!!).
The recipe goes like this:
3 cups warm water
1 tablespoon yeast (1 packet)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
7 cups all-purpose flour
In a large bowl, gently mix the water, yeast, sugar, and salt. Let sit five minutes. Stir in only three cups of flour with a heavy spoon or mixer. Add the next cup of flour a little at a time, stirring until dough becomes too stiff to continue stirring easily with a spoon. If you are using a heavy mixer (like my most wonderful KitchenAid) I would suggest adding all the flour at once and push the dough down when it crawls up the dough hook. (Please use the dough hook. Don't be afraid. It's supposed to look like something out of Peter Pan.) I sometimes even oil the hook so the dough doesn't crawl as much. Add a little more flour and begin kneading. Continue adding flour and kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic. If using a KitchenAid I just allow the hook to knead the dough until it's all balled up and the dough has cleaned up the sides of the bowel (oops. Did I just write "bowel"? Oh my goodness. It's the nurse coming out of me. I meant to write "bowl". I used to get those two mixed up in nursing school all the time.) Let dough rise in a greased, covered bowl for about an hour or until doubled. Uncover bowl; sprinkle in a little more flour and knead again then divide in half. With floured hands, shape dough into loaves and place in two greased loaf pans. Cover loaf pans. Let rise for about an hour. By this time the raw dough will be beautiful and tall and look like a pale loaf ready for the oven. Bake for 25 minutes in a preheated 350-degree oven. (I even sometimes put the loaf pans of risen dough into the oven as it preheats. It seems to keep the loaves from collapsing in the coolness of my kitchen while waiting for the oven to warm.) Makes two loaves.
Then while the bread is hot and steamy, cut a piece (or snatch a handful) and slather with butter. Only real butter will do. Nothing fake or chemically like margarine should touch the goodness of bread straight from the oven, good bread made with mother (or sister or aunt) love built right into the loaf. Chew with relish and let that good stuff nourish your body. And soul.