Posted by: ceara08 | March 22, 2009

Easy Homemade Bread

I see a lot of hits on my page about baking homemade bread to save money. I guess the economic crunch is hitting everyone.

So I’ve decided to post how I make the majority of our homemade bread. It’s really quite easy, because I’ve taken a lot of work out of the equation.

We have a bread machine. But I do not use it to bake the bread because I don’t like the resulting texture and flavor.

Here’s the recipe, with instructions below.

2 cups warm water

2 tablespoon sugar (or molasses, brown sugar, honey)

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons oil (or butter, margarine, olive oil, etc)

6 cups of white, unbleached flour

2 teaspoons rapid rise baking yeast

In my bread machine, I add the ingredients listed in the order above. The measurement of the salt, sugar and oil are just estimates of what I use, since I do not actually measure those ingredients. But then again I’ve been cooking most of my life. And after you measure out so many teaspoons and tablespoons of ingredients, you get a “feel” or general idea of just how much it really is. If you’re not certain, please measure.

Whatever you do, do NOT mix the salt in with the yeast layer. Salt is for flavoring, but if it’s in direct contact with the yeast it will slow the rising process. Ask me how I know. *laughs* But if you put the salt in with the water below the flour, then it will turn out just right.

Then once all the ingredients are in the bread machine pan, put it inside the bread machine and turn on the “dough” cycle. What this does is mix the dough and gives a slight gentle heat in a closed environment to allow it to rise properly, but does not bake the bread.

This recipe will make two good-sized loaves or 2 dozen rolls.

After the dough rises once in the machine, the machine will beep and then I remove the dough, shape it and place into baking pans. Then the pans filled with dough go into the oven with the light on and the door closed until they are risen again. Takes anywhere between 1 to 2 hours to rise the second time. Don’t rush this step! If you bake the bread in a half-risen state you will end up with hard, chewy, dense bread. This recipe should give you light and fluffy bread.

You can also divide the dough into 4 parts, and roll it out to make 4 nice medium sized pizzas! But that recipe is another post, another day. If anyone wants to see my homemade pizza ideas, please leave a comment!

For variety and to make what I call a “pseudo” wheat bread, add in about 1/4 cup of wheat bran and 1/8 cup of wheat germ to the white flour layer in the dough.

To make extra special rolls, you can alter the recipe to have half milk and half water for the liquid and add an egg. But you may have to add a bit more flour, say 1/2 cup. You can also brush the tops of the risen, unbaked dough with a bit of beaten egg white for added shine. Or you can brush melted butter over hot, fully baked bread for extra yumminess!

If you want a sweet bread, for like raisin bread, use the same recipe. Only add a bit more sugar, the egg as mentioned above, raisins that have been soaking in hot water and drained, and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. This version of the recipe makes KILLER toast, especially with butter spread on after it pops out of the toaster. You can even roll out the dough after it’s split into two chunks and make cinnamon buns! Yum!!!

Bread is so easy to make it’s not even funny. Especially when you make the bread machine do all the hard work and all you do it put in ingredients and push the start button. Can’t go wrong!

I know many many people out there must have a bread machine sitting in their cupboards unused. Well, time to take it out of the cupboard and use it!

In bread machines you can make fresh homemade pasta dough, jam and all kinds of other goodies.

I make bread every second day. One loaf gets put into the freezer once it’s cooled completely, and the other is eaten, usually pretty darn quick. Once the smell of homemade bread fills the house, everyone shows up wanting a piece while it’s still warm.

In these tough economic times, you can still be happy and help others feel happy with the soul-food feel of bread. If you have children, they will grow up always remembering the smell of homemade bread in the home. It’s one of those things that sticks with you throughout life and always brings a smile and happy memories.

So get out there and make some memories!

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