Sunday, January 29, 2012

Best Bread Ever

I love to bake.  I love to bake bread.  Since my first child was born I have baked almost all of the bread consumed by my family.  Sure, I still slack from time to time and buy bread at the grocery store, especially in the summer when it gets too hot to bake in my house, but most of the time the family gets to eat nice warm yummy baked from scratch bread. 

I know what you're thinking....ugh, so ambitious, but so time consuming.  WRONG.  Over the years I have tried what seems like dozens of bread recipes on my family.  I was on the search for something quick and easy.  Oxymoron right, how can bread be quick and easy?  I managed to find a single rise recipe that was almost perfect so I tweaked it to make it mine, and make it perfect.  I have carefully guarded this recipe for a number of years, and now I have decided to share it with all of you.  Yes it's true, now you can bake the yummy fresh bread for your family that you have always wanted to bake, but felt you have never had the time to.

Here is what you need.

6 cups Flour
2 plus a little bit cups of water
1/4 cup melted butter or oil
1/4 cup of sugar (white or brown)
4.5 tsp (2 packets) quick rise or instant yeast

I like to use my Kitchen Aid mixer to make my bread, but you can do it by hand if you don't have a mixer.  Just a note on your mixer.  If you have a Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand mixer or the equivalent in another brand, this recipe is a tight fit for your mixer bowl and can be tough on the motor.  If you plan to make bread frequently I recommend one of the KA pro series bowl lift mixers or equivalent or that it be done by hand once you get to the point where you are adding the final two or three cups of flour.  You will be able to gauge for yourself how your mixer handles the dough.

Okay.  Here we go.  Use a class 2 cup measure and fill full with lukewarm water and pour into the mixer bowl.  Add 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of melted butter.  in a separate bowl place 4 cups of flour (3 if you are using an artisan stand mixer) and mix yeast in with the flour.  Pour flour mixture into liquid and place on mixer.  Attach dough hook to mixer and mix on 1 or 2 until smooth and elastic.  add remaining flour one cup at a time (Important note, make sure you stop the mixer before you add each cup of flour or you will make a huge mess).  Mix on one or two until well mixed before adding the next cup of flour.  Continue mixing until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.  Turn off mixer and turn dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead for a bit until smooth.  Let rest for ten minutes then divide and place into greased loaf pans.  Let rise for 30 min then bake at 350 degrees for 30 min.  Remove from oven, remove from loaf pan and enjoy.   Yum!!

So there you have it, there is my secret!!

Another thing you can do is make the dough to freeze.  It is a little trickier than making it to bake, but still quite easy.  Instead of using instant yeast, use traditional yeast.  Put the yeast into the liquid and let proof for 10 min.  Continue as noted in above instruction.  When you get to the resting point, let bread rest/rise for 30 min, punch down, shape loaves and put in pans, and place in the freezer.  Once frozen remove from the pan and wrap in saran wrap and place in a large ziplock in the deep freeze.  They should keep fresh for a few months easily.  When you are ready for fresh bread take a loaf of dough out of the freezer, unwrap and place in a greased loaf pan, place in refrigerator overnight to thaw, then place on the stove with the oven preheating and let rise for 30-40 min (Until double in size) then bake as indicated above!!

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