So are you really intimidated by the thought of making your own homemade bread WITHOUT a bread machine? Well SNAP OUT OF IT! It’s really easy if you know a few simple steps!
Here is a really easy basic white bread recipe. This isn’t a recipe that’s gonna win you a blue ribbon, but it is a great place to start on on your journey to becoming a bread baker.
Here we go!
Here are the cast of characters. Yes, I buy yeast in bulk, it is so much cheaper that way, but you can buy the packets, that’s OK too.
First what you need to do is get the water up to temp, you are looking for between 105 degrees and 120 degrees, you really don’t want to go over 120, or you will risk killing the yeast, and you don’t want that on your conscience do you?
Now just pour that warm water into a nice large bowl, add sugar and sprinkle yeast over the water.
Let it sit for about 10 minutes and in that time…..
IT’S ALIVE, IT’S ALIVE! While you were gone, the yeast has come to life, the bacteria are having a grand ol’ time, living a life of burping and farting, that’s their purpose in life, much like someone I know and love, I won’t mention names, but it rhymes with Frob…..
And you thought Sea-monkeys were cool.
Now comes the melted butter (not too hot, let it cool) and the first 2 cups of flour. I always add some flour before adding the salt, yeast much like my mother-in-law hates salt, it can kill it, hypertension?
Now give it a quick stir and add the salt, don’t skip it, this is essential for flavor in bread, and 3-4 cups of flour.
Now you should have a shaggy sticky mass of dough.
As you will have noticed, we haven’t added all of the flour yet, we are going to do that during the kneading process, it’s just too hard to stir it all in with the spoon. Don’t try to be a hero
Now on a clean counter top, sprinkle a cup of flour. Plop the dough out and roll it around.
And start kneading. This is easy, just beat the tar out of it! Grab the dough and fold it over itself.
Then using the “heel” of your hand smash it while pushing away. Somehow my hand got sunburned between these two pictures, solar flare?
Keep doing this over and over for about 15 minutes only adding enough flour to make the dough not too sticky. You may not need all 7 cups, different brands of flours absorb moisture differently, so this isn’t an exact science. The dough should be still pretty soft, you don’t want a very stiff dough, stiff isn’t good here. You know when you are there when the dough takes on a nice smooth appearance and is very elastic.
Now clean that bowl that you mixed in, dry and add about a tablespoon of oil, swish it around in the bottom.
Now plop your ball of dough, smooth side down in the bowl and squish it around a bit.
Now flip it over so that it is shiny side up. The oil keeps the dough moist and prevents a crusty skin from forming.
Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot in the kitchen until it is double in volume. This again varies, this could take an hour or it could take 2 depending on the temperature of your kitchen, be patient let the yeast do their thing. Since you fed them some sugar, they have all they need to produce lots of gas.
Woo Hoo magic!
Now sprinkle the counter with a bit more flour, and plop out the dough.
Now divide in half.
Take one half of the dough and flatten with your hands.
Now fold in the ends, and the sides and pinch all together.
and shape it a bit so it looks more like a loaf.
Repeat with the second half of the dough.
Now grease two standard sized loaf pans (9×5″), you can use the pan spray here, it works great. Place one loaf into each pan.
Now cover again and let rise a second time, until the dough just peeks over the tops of the pans.
When they start getting close, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Now this next step is optional and it is what my mom would call “gilding the lily”. You can take a very sharp knife and score the tops of the loaves. The first one I did some simple slashes and the second one, I did one long cut down the length of the loaf and put butter in the slit. This is going to make a “buttersplit” loaf.
Now simply place the loaves in the preheated oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
You will want loaves that are golden brown top and bottom. The internal temperature should be at 190-200 degrees if you are not sure and want to check with an instant read thermometer.
Once baked you will want to remove them from the pans immediately onto a cooling rack. If you were to leave them in the pans, they would sweat and the bottom crust would be soggy. Did, I just mention sweat and soggy bottoms in the same sentence?
- 6-7 cups all purpose flour (bread flour works well too)
- 3 tablespoons sugar (honey is a good substitute)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons melted butter or shortening
- 2 packages active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons bulk yeast) (instant, or rapid rise work too)
- 2 1/4 cups warm water (between 105-120 degrees)