White Bread.. It's a Classic

Here in Mid-Central Ohio it feels more like autumn than spring. Last night, the low temperature was 39 degrees. Refusing to turn the furnace back on, we bundled up and had a hearty soup and some delicious home-made bread.

Bread making has been a task that I have avoided for years. When I would read recipes for breads, I would become overwhelmed. They take too long and have too many steps. But about a year ago, I decided to bite the bullet and give it a try. The results have been fantastic. We hardly ever buy bread anymore and if we do it's from a delicious local bakery that features an awesome Vienna bread that makes the best toast and sandwiches. (Buckeye Bakery, here in Sunny Mansfield)

I had given some thought to a bread machine but everytime I tried samples from friends, it was really heavy and dense with the consistancy of lead. Also, I am not a gadget person. I have a few that I can't live without but many more have ended up at Goodwill. So I ruled that out. I just had to find the right recipe and figure out when I could fit it in to my schedule. I would start out with a basic white bread recipe to learn the technique and branch out from there.

This recipe is easy. You can do other things while it's rising so the actual work time is short and the results are great. It's good for sandwiches,toast, sopping up gravy or my favorite, bread with butter. It's the perfect white bread.

You don't have to have any special skills and or machinery to make it but I have found that my trusty KitchenAid mixer does most of the work for me. By the way... sidenote... I coveted this mixer for YEARS and after getting one, it was everything I dreamed it would be. Not an appliance that I use everyday but when I need it, it gets the job done.

Here is my recipe for a classic white bread:
1 packet active dry yeast
2 3/4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup water
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon sugar
1. Empty the contents of 1 package of active dry yeast in a bowl or the bowl of your mixer.
2. Add 1/4 cup lukewarm water and 1 teaspoon of sugar
3. Go do something for a few minutes until this mixture looks foamy
4. Once it's foamy and a little bubbly, add all the remaining ingredients and with the dough hook in the mixer, mix the dough. It will form into a ball and I let it mix on a medium speed for a minute or two to knead the bread. (you can also knead by hand on a floured board)
5. Dump the dough onto a floured surface. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for ten minutes.
6. After the ten minutes is up, roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 12" X 8". This removes all air bubbles from the dough.
7. Starting at the short end, roll the dough tightly into a log. Press the edge together to seal it. Tuck the ends under and place the loaf in a 9" X 5" loaf pan that you have greased. (cooking spray is fine to grease with)
8. Cover loaf pan with plastic wrap and allow the loaf to rise until it has doubled in size.
9. Remove plastic wrap and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 30-35 minutes until the top is golden brown.
10. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.
**Side Note About Rising**
My house is always cool. So rising can be a problem, but I have found the perfect solution. Once I place the loaf in the greased pan and cover with plastic wrap, I place it in the oven. Along with a
small dish of water. Turn the oven on for just a few seconds to get the tiniest bit of heat and turn it off. Then I leave the oven light on for extra heat. I get a perfect rise everytime. Also when its time to bake, I simply remove the plastic wrap and the dish of water. Turn the oven on the 375 degrees and allow the bread to stay in the oven while its preheating.
** Helpful Tools and Tricks **
I use a large wooden cutting board to roll on. I purchased it from Crate and Barrel for about $25. It's perfect for cookies,breads and pie crusts. The only care needed is to occasionally oil it with a food safe mineral oil that you can also purchase at Crate and Barrel or Bed,Bath and Beyond.
Little rolling pins are not for me. I have a large, french pastry rolling pin. It is solid wood and has no handles, the ends are tapered. It measures about 21" long. I bought mine at Lehmans in Kidron,Ohio for about $14. This is a kitchen must have. I will never own another rolling pin in my life. I'll provide you with a link to Lehmans. I think you will really enjoy this catolog.


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