There’s nothing better than that first piece of warm bread, fresh from the oven, smothered in butter. And if you’ve ever made homemade bread yourself, you know what I’m talking about. The smell alone makes it worth it. My oldest daughter normally comes running into the kitchen just as I’m pulling the loaves from the oven. She says, “it smells just like Grandma’s house.” That always makes me smile. It may sound silly, but small things like that make me proud that I’m passing down those same feelings and traditions to my kids, as my mother did for me.
I know not everyone has the time to make homemade bread every week. However, I think there are some people out there that would love to try, but think it’s a lot harder and more time consuming than it actually is. It’s very simple to make, and after a time or two you’ll be a pro.
In today’s post I want to share with you a few tips I’ve learned that will make your bread fool proof.
When my mother first tried to teach me to make bread It was by using the packets of dry active yeast. When it came time to add the yeast she’d say, “now test the water with your finger and see if it’s the right temperature.” She would go on to explain that if the water was too hot the yeast would die, too cold and it wouldn’t activate. The problem with that was, I didn’t know what temperature I was feeling for, ha. (sorry, Mom) My mother has been making bread for years, so she knew a lot more about what “the right temperature” felt like, than I did.
So for my first piece of advice, if you’re serious about making bread, invest in a inexpensive candy thermometer. It will make your life so much easier. You’ll thank me later! I’ve threw out a lot of yeast over the years because my finger was off a few degrees.
Tip number 2: You can alter the ingredients portion to suit your taste buds, but be careful. Too much water will make your dough runny. Too much salt will kill your yeast. Too much flour will make a dry dough. Using to much flour will also create a denser, heavier bread. Between 2 and 3 cups of flour per loaf is the norm.
Tip number 3: When your bread is fresh out of the oven, it will begin to have a hard outer crust as it cools. if you want a soft crust, such as a store bought bread, then you simply brush the outside with melted butter. It will be soft in a matter of minutes.
Tip number 4: When cutting your bread, lay it on it’s side. This will prevent your bread from getting smashed down while slicing.
Tip number 5: Always store your bread in either a bread bag with a tie, a container with a lid, or a Ziploc bag. If you use a air tight container or a Ziploc bag, leave a small crack on the end of the seal. Believe it or not, the bread needs a small amount of air in order to stay fresh. If it’s sealed completely it will go stale a lot faster. Crazy, but it works. (Thanks to my sister for this tip.)
Tip number 6: You can freeze bread and rolls for later use. My mom does this all the time. Bake the bread or rolls and remove them from the oven just before they start to brown. Allow them to cool and place them in freezer bags and freeze. When you are ready to use them, just set them out to thaw and then bake them in the oven to finish browing. They’ll taste like they are freshly made.
- 1 cup of sourdough bread starter
- 6 cups all purpose flour
- 1½ cups warm water
- ¼ cup white sugar
- ½ cup oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- In a separate bowl add salt to flour
- In a mixing bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water
- Add one cup starter and oil to bowl, start mixing all wet ingredients on low speed
- Slowly add in small amounts of flour and salt mixture, until all the flour has been added and is mixed well. Dough will be slightly sticky
- Lightly oil a large plastic bowl and put dough in it. Cover lightly with a clean dishtowel and let set out all day or overnight. Dough should doubled in size
- Punch down dough and divide in two parts
- Knead each part 7 to 8 times by hand, on a lightly floured surface.
- Form in to loaves and place in two lightly greased bread pans
- Cover with clean dishtowel and let rise 3 to 4 more hours
- Bake on middle rack at 350 for 30-45 minutes, or until golden brown
- Remove from oven to cool and brush with butter