>> Monday, November 24, 2008
I've tried several bread recipes over the last few months, trying to lower my grocery budget. I found some yummy recipes, but the bread was so dense and had a pretty hard crust, no matter what I tried -- so it was great for garlic bread but not so great for sandwiches or toast. So I found myself still buying bread at the store, which is exactly what I was trying to avoid by making my own bread in the first place.
And then I found this recipe. It's another recipe that I found online on THIS website.
When I make these loaves of bread, my family will eat the entire batch in one sitting, if I let them. I don't let them. :) It is so extremely soft and is also very easy to make. It makes amazing French toast, and even just toasting it and slathering it with butter is perfection.
I think one of the main reasons this bread is so much better is because it uses bread flour instead of all-purpose flour. I'll admit I hadn't even heard of bread flour before -- every other bread recipe I've ever made just called for all-purpose flour. That's what makes the biggest difference in this recipe!
FYI -- bread flour is high in gluten. It has a few additives - like malted barley flour, vitamin C or potassium - that really help the yeast to work to its fullest potential. It's the extra gluten that provides the chewy-ness. If your recipe calls for bread flour, you can substitute all-purpose flour if you really need to (try your best not to need to, though!), but you won't get the same fabulous results. However, if a recipe calls for all-purpose flour, like a cake recipe, for example, don't substitute bread flour.
As always, you may want to read my tips on working with yeast and bread making before you begin!
2 cups hot water (about 110 degrees)
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 cups bread flour
Dissolve sugar in water. Add yeast and let stand until yeast is very foamy and bubbly, about 5 minutes.
Add salt and oil. Mix in flour, 1 cup at a time. (You may need to use a bit more flour. I've had to use 6.5-7 cups in the past -- it really depends on the humidity.) Knead dough, either by hand or in your mixer, for about 5 minutes. Place dough in a well-oiled metal bowl, cover with a damp cloth and let rise until double in size, about 1 hour.
Punch down dough, divide in half and place into well-oiled 9x5 loaf pans. Let rise about 30 minutes.
Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. (Depending on your oven, you may need to cover loaves with foil and then remove the foil the last few minutes, to prevent over-browning.)