It seems that everyone is baking bread these pandemic days. Particularly sour dough, which The Goddess wandered into, when yeast was not so readily available. But, she’s returned to her roots…the bread you eat everyday! A good, basic loaf….It’s good to have a go-to recipe for most things. This is my go-to for bread. The loaf I could eat every. single. day. The basic loaf; the base for most of the bread(s) I make. By using different fats, part non-white flour, herbs, cheese, etc. to change up the flavor, without really changing the recipe too much, you can make a plethora of loaves. How to do that, we’ll talk about in another posting.
Some of us think white bread isn’t as nutritious as whole wheat. There, I think I should mention that all supermarket flour has been enriched. The difference, other than color and a slight flavor variance, between white and whole wheat bread, is negligible. I think perhaps we like to think we’re “healthier” when we eat whole grain breads, but from a purely nutritional stand point, there’s really very little difference. I know. I know…that’s not what you hear. But, check out this article from Bon Appétit. My sister, the Registered Dietician has been telling me this for years. But, what does she know? The addition of bran, nuts, dried fruit, etc., may give you more roughage and a bit more protein, fat and vitamins, etc. I just thought I would pass that along. Anyway, back to our everyday bread.
I use my Kitchen-Aid® mixer, or the bread machine to make this. I don’t do “by-hand” kneading, because frankly, both the mixer and the bread machine do a better a job. At least, that’s what I’ve found. I must say, I do miss kneading, so sometimes a do a couple minutes of “therapy kneading”…you know what I mean. But, feel free to knead away, if that’s what you want to do. I no longer proof yeast. Proofing (or is it proving?) is only necessary with active dry yeast. I use either instant or RapidRise® yeast.
It’s much simpler, because I just put it in the mixing bowl, along with 1 cup of the flour, the dry milk powder, the salt, the ginger and any other dry ingredients you’re using. It’s different for the bread machine—usually the yeast goes in last, on top of the flour, which is on top of the liquid ingredients…but follow the instructions for you particular machine. There’s a thought that bread rises better with the ginger. I’m note certain that’s true, but it’s such a small amount, it doesn’t affect the flavor, so why not?
Add your very warm water and beat for a minute or two. Then, I add my additional liquid ingredients, like fat, the egg and the honey, if I’m using that instead of the sugar. Beat for maybe 30 seconds. You just want everything to come together. Then, I switch to my handy-dandy dough hook and I add the remaining flour, usually keeping back about 1/4-1/3 cup. Beat on LOW speed, or you’ll have flour up your nose, on the ceiling, all over the counter and you will be saying very nasty things about me! So, low speed. Once it comes together, then increase the speed slightly to knead…that’s about #3 on my Kitchen-Aid. Let it go for 6-8 minutes. It will be quite sticky initially, but don’t be too tempted to start dumping a lot of extra flour in.
Once the gluten starts to form, the dough will clean the side of the bowl, but there still may be a bit that sticks in the very bottom of the bowl. That’s okay.
Now, most recipes tell you to place the dough in clean bowl and oil the top. I never do this. I see no reason to dirty an additional bowl. So, I scrape the sides down, push the dough into a ball, more or less, cover with plastic wrap and let it raise until about double…usually 30-40 minutes. By the way, a shower cap that you’ve
stolen saved from your last trip, works great for this. And it’s reusable, too. Once the dough ball has risen to about double in size, I scrape it down and let the dough ball plop out onto a very lightly floured surface and form into a loaf. I use my hands (lightly floured) for this. Pat the dough into a rectangle, about the size of your pan…maybe just a bit longer. Now, fold the two short sides in until they just about meet in the middle. Bring up the long sides, tightly bringing the together. Pinch them closed and turn the now-formed loaf over; gently roll the “log” back and forth, until it will fit into your well-greased loaf pan. Plop the loaf in there, gently press it to fit, cover and let rest/rise until almost doubled, about 25-45 minutes, on my kitchen counter. The time may vary, depending on the ambient temperature of your kitchen. It’s a good idea to check after about 25 minutes. Gently slide the pan into the preheated oven and bake until it reaches 190°F internally, or about 30-35 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, and cool for 10 minutes, then remove the loaf from the pan and cool to room temperature. Now, I know you’re going to want to cut into that nice, warm, aromatic loaf. But, resist. First of all, it won’t cut well at all, and the interior will be a bit gummy. If you want a slice warmed, put it in to toaster for maybe 30 seconds. Slather with whatever yumminess you like to slather on bread and enjoy. This bread is perfect for sandwiches, your morning toast, grilled cheese, as a “mop” for gravy or a great sauce…you get the idea.
I also use this recipe for both dinner rolls and sweet rolls. I’ll do a separate post for rolls later.
- Basic Loaf:
- 2 3/4 to 3 1/2 cups bread flour (you may need a bit more—see NOTE)
- 1/3 cup dry milk powder (or buttermilk powder)
- 2-4 tablespoons sugar or honey (if using honey, add with the liquid)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant or RapidRise yeast (1 envelope)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Large pinch ground ginger (optional)
- 1 cup very warm water (120°F to 130°F)
- 1 large egg (see NOTE)
- 1-4 tablespoons melted (or softened) butter, oil or bacon fat
Combine 1 cup flour, sugar, dry yeast, milk powder and salt in a large mixer bowl. Add water and using the paddle attachment, mix on medium speed of mixer for 1 minute. Add the egg and the butter (or oil). Beat for 30 seconds on until incorporated. Switch to the dough hook. Add 2 cups of the remaining flour and knead until it comes together. Add additional flour to form a soft dough; knead for 6-8 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Cover; and let rise in a draft-free area of your kitchen, until double, about 30 minutes. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Form dough into a smooth loaf and place in pan. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place 30 to 40 minutes, or until dough is doubled in bulk. It should be about an inch or two above the rim. Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 190 F. Brush top with melted butter, if desired. Cool in pan 5 to 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely on cooling rack. Do not cut, until completely cool. Excellent for sandwiches or toasted.
NOTE: According to the folks over at King Arthur Baking Company™, you may substitute all-purpose for bread flour. There will be little difference, except the loaf made with bread flour will be slightly firmer. Keep in mind, that you may need a slight bit more the all-purpose flour…by slight, I mean maybe a few tablespoons. The loaf will have a tendency to be slightly softer, but not enough to worry about. It will still be very delicious!
Everyday Bread Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2020. All rights reserved.