Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Baking Bread

 There's nothing quite like homemade bread, is there? The lovely feel of the warm dough, the yeasty smell when it bakes, the warm slices with butter and jelly.
 We use a bread maker to mix the actual dough and then we take it out, knead it by hand, rise it again in a warm spot and bake it in a regular loaf pan. That's a little bit hi-tech and old-fashioned all rolled into one.

 Here's the dough just out of the bread maker. We've tucked it into an aluminum bread pan and are ready to cover it with a light cloth. We used to dampen the cloth but found that it sticks less (actually not at all) if the cloth is left dry. Our house isn't very warm so I placed the bread on our south porch, warmed by the mid-day sun. The pan sits atop a small homemade rug for protection from the cool tabletop. In the winter I warm a small room with a space heater. About 30 minutes to an hour later (depending on the temperature and the quality of the yeast), the dough has risen out of the pan and puffs the cloth up like a tent. That's the sign we watch for.

 And here's the loaf, newly out of the oven, smelling just like fresh bread should! Mom adds a little margarine to the crust (using a paper towel) to soften it. That's an unnecessary step if you like your crust a little tough (I do; Mom doesn't).
 The recipe we used is this:

Classic White (one regular loaf)

3/4 cup water
2 cups white flour
1 tablespoon dry milk
1-1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon margarine
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds (roasted, salted)
1-1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast

We place this in our bread maker (water on the bottom) and set it for "dough". When it's done, we take it out, knead it a couple of times by hand and place it in a greased loaf pan. We let it rise again (30 min. to an hour; the loaf should double in size in surroundings that are comfortably warm; I cover it with a dry cloth).

 Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes (until crust is nice and brown)