There are certain smells that just ‘do it’ for me. Newborn baby, freshly mowed grass and home made bread baking in the oven! Nothing beats the aroma of freshly baked bread wafting through the air, does it?
For hundreds generations, baking fresh bread was part of the daily routine for most women. Some even made their own yeast! Today, homemade bread making has been simplified by the invention of the bread maker machine. I personally don’t like bread baked in a machine, but I’m not above using my thrift shop bread maker to mix the dough for me!
To celebrate Homemade Bread Day, find a recipe for your favorite type of bread and try your hand at some old-fashioned homemade bread baking!
Here’s our favorite recipe for home made white bread. Enjoy!
Softened Earth Balance Buttery Spread, for greasing and brushing
500g approx.(3 1/3 cups) bread flour (higher in gluten than standard AP flour)
2 tsp (7g/1 packet) dried yeast
7 grams (2 tsp) sugar
3.5 grams (1 tsp) salt
375mls (1 1/2 cups) lukewarm water
Brush a loaf pan with the softened buttery spread to lightly grease.
Dissolve sugar in warm water and sprinkle with the yeast. Set aside for 10 minutes to “proof”
(it will get bubbly and frothy in appearance)
Use a wooden spoon to stir the salt and about half the flour into the yeast mixture until combined, then add the remaining flour and use your hands to bring the dough together in the bowl.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. (Kneading distributes the yeast evenly through the dough and develops and strengthens the gluten in the flour which will form the framework of the bread. The best way to knead is to use the heel of your hand to push the dough away from you and then lift it with your fingertips and fold it over itself towards you. Turn the dough a quarter turn and repeat. You can tell when the dough has been kneaded enough by pressing your finger into the surface of the dough – if it springs back, it has been kneaded sufficiently. If the dough hasn’t been kneaded enough, the resulting bread will have a holey, crumbly texture and poor structure.)
Shape the dough into a ball. Brush a large bowl with the melted butter to grease. Place the dough into the bowl and turn it over to lightly coat the dough surface with the butter. This will stop the surface of the dough drying out as it stands, which can affect the rising process. You can use your favorite organic vegetable oil, if you want, but I really like the extra layer of flavor the butter adds.
Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and then place it in a warm, draft-free place to allow the dough to rise.
Leave the dough in this spot until it is double its size.
This quantity of bread dough should take between 45-75 minutes to double in size. When the dough is ready, it will retain a finger imprint when lightly pressed.
If left to rise for too long, the bread texture will be uneven and have large holes. If not left for long enough, it will have a heavy, dense texture.
Once the dough has doubled in size. Punch it down in the center with your fist. This step, releases excess carbon dioxide produced by the yeast during rising so the final bread won’t have a “yeasty” flavor that’s too strong.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface, cover with the bowl and let it rest about 10 minutes then knead again for 2-3 minutes or until smooth and elastic and returned to its original size.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Shape dough into a loaf shape and place in the greased loaf pan. Brush lightly with the melted buttery spread.
Stand the pan in a warm, draft-free place, as with the first rise, for about 30 minutes or until the dough has risen about 1 inch above the top of the pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until golden. The best way to tell when the loaf of bread is cooked is to tap it on the base with your knuckle – if it sounds hollow, it is cooked.
Turn the loaf immediately onto a wire rack and allow to cool. We like a softer crust, so I brush the hot loaf with Buttery Spread on all sides and then allow it to cool.
This bread is best eaten on the day it is made. However, it makes great toast the next morning! Make any stale leftovers into breadcrumbs and freeze in a sealed freezer bag to have on hand for later use.