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{Recipe} Everyday Bread

Busy Day Bread

I learned how to make bread when I was a little girl. I can still remember watching my mom in the kitchen, making the recipe her grandmother had taught her. The process always seemed a little bit magical to me, and now, more than 30 years later, I still think it’s pretty amazing. My great-grandmother’s bread was an all day affair. Actually, it started the night before, boiling potatoes for the ‘potato water’, to which the yeast was added. My mom kept the yeast in a little jar in the fridge, feeding it every time she baked bread. She would start early in the morning – mixing, kneading, waiting… Even so, it wasn’t until late afternoon that the bread came out of the oven. It was good, old-fashioned bread – hearty, slightly chewy, and with a perfectly browned crust. It’s still the best bread I have ever tasted, and I have made my own version of it many times. It is not, however, a practical ‘everyday’ bread – it’s just too darn time consuming. Taking shortcuts with this recipe, however, always leads to disappointing results. So, after many failed attempts, I decided that this particular recipe needs to be left just exactly the way it is. It takes as long as it takes, and that’s ok – just not every day!

My husband’s low-sodium diet means that we can’t just walk into the grocery store and pick up a loaf of bread. So, we need a bread recipe that’s fast, easy, and versatile. Plus, it has to taste good, because otherwise, why bother? I like this sandwich style loaf can be used it for everything from the pb&j’s that I pack in my kids’ lunchboxes, to the stuffing in our Thanksgiving turkey. It takes less than 3 hours, start to finish, and always turns out perfectly. It’s not quite on the same level as my great-grandmother’s, but all-in-all, it’s the ideal everyday bread. In fact, I feel like I’m selling it short by calling it “Everyday” Bread, like it’s just ho-hum, nothing to write home about – which is NOT the case. Perhaps more accurately, it should be called “Any Day Bread”, as in it can be made any day of the week (even if you didn’t plan ahead, and boil potatoes the night before, and start at 6 in the morning), and even if you have a life and don’t

{Recipe} Everyday Bread


Time: 3 1/2 – 4 hours

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 – 3 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting your work surface)
  • 2 teaspoons salt *optional* (to make a low-sodium version of this bread, simply omit the salt)
  • 1 cup warm whole milk (approx. 110 degrees)
  • 1/3 cup warm water (approx. 100 degrees)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast

Directions:

  1. Mix flour and salt (if using) in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment.
  2. Combine the milk, water, butter, and honey in a microwave safe bowl and warm to approximately 110 degrees. This is about the temperature that the honey becomes “liquidy”. Stir mixture and check the temperature with an instant read thermometer. If it isn’t at least 105 degrees, put it back in the microwave for increments of 30 seconds, checking the temperature each time. If it gets too hot, let it cool down for a bit. Whatever you do though, don’t add the yeast until it has reached the proper temperature.
  3. Add yeast to the milk mixture.
  4. Turn the mixer on low speed and slowly add the liquid. When the dough comes together, increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough is smooth and satiny, about 10 minutes. You may need to stop the mixer occasionally to scrape dough from the hook. If after about 5 minutes of mixing, the dough is still sticking badly to the sides of the bowl, add a little more flour (up to 1/4 cup total).
  5. Turn the dough out directly into a large, lightly oiled bowl. Turn the dough around in the bowl so that it gets coated lightly with the oil. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free place until it doubles in size (45 minutes to an hour).
  6. Gently “punch” the dough down to deflate it slightly. Turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, and press it gently into an 8 inch square that is approximately 1 inch thick. Starting with the side farthest away from you, roll the dough firmly into a log shape, pressing with your fingers to make sure it sticks to itself. Turn the dough seam side up and pinch the seam closed with your fingers. Place the dough, seam side down, in a lightly greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Press it down gently so that it touches all four sides of the pan. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise until it has almost doubled in size (30 to 45 minutes). While you’re waiting for it to rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Bake for approximately 50 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf, just above the rim of the pan, registers 195 degrees. Remove bread from the oven. Tip it out of the loaf pan and let cool to room temperature on a wire rack.
  8. Slice and serve.[/recipe]
Dough After the 1st Rise

Dough After the Initial Rise

Gently press dough into an 8 inch square.

Gently press dough into an 8 inch square.

Roll dough into a cylinder.

Roll dough into a cylinder.

Pinch the seam together with your fingers.

Pinch the seam together with your fingers.

Cover with saran wrap and let rise until almost doubled in size.

Cover with saran wrap and let rise until almost doubled in size.

Make two slashes in the top of the loaf before you put it into the oven.

Make two slashes in the top of the loaf before you put it into the oven.

If you’ve never made bread before, this is a great recipe to start with. Give it a try, and if you have any questions, leave a comment or  and I will do my best to help!

Credits: Adapted from American Sandwich Bread recipe in “The New Best Recipe, Revised Edition” from the editors of Cook’s Illustrated.

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7 Responses to {Recipe} Everyday Bread

  1. Jodi January 23, 2014 at 7:39 pm #

    Sounds delicious, I think I will have to try this recipe.
    Thanks for sharing
    xx, High heels and Tutus
    http://highheelsandtutus.com

  2. Beth Somers January 26, 2014 at 9:29 pm #

    Ah, I can relate to your overly-consuming bread recipe! I never have the foresight that bread requires, even if it is just a few hours worth. But it is a goal of mine to get into it this year! I need a little jar of yeast in my fridge, too! Thanks for sharing. This recipe looks like a good starting point.

    • Stacey January 27, 2014 at 10:39 pm #

      Let me know what you think of the recipe after you’ve tried it. It really has changed the way I think about homemade bread – makes it seem way more “do-able”!

  3. Wendy Flynn Del Monte November 15, 2015 at 6:02 am #

    I can’t wait to try this recipe! Can I make a tiny suggestion? Can you make the font of your site a wee bit darker? You have so much to say, I want to read it all, but it’s hard for me to read. I’
    ll be buying a jar of yeast

    • Stacey November 16, 2015 at 3:21 pm #

      Thank you for letting me know about the text! I changed it to black, so hopefully it’s easier to read now – but please let me know if it’s not. Perhaps I need to look into changing the font itself… Also, I hope you enjoy the bread recipe 🙂 ~Stacey @ Growing Some Roots

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