Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Basic Sandwich Bread

When I look back at our journey to become more healthy and consume more natural foods, one event stands alone.  My husbands declaration that the we are not going to buy bread anymore but make our own.  We did this at first purely for the quality of the bread that we can make versus buy.  But making your own bread is one of the most frugal things you can do to help your family save money at the grocery store and nothing beats the smell of a fresh loaf in the oven!

When it comes to bread making there is a great division in our family... My husband prefers the "hands on" kneading method of bread making while I prefer the "hands off" bread machine method.  It is simply preference, you get the same result. We both agree the bread machine's cube shaped bread is not great. So when I make bread I only use the bread machine on the dough setting. The dough setting mixes your ingredients, allows the bread to rise, and kneads it for you. Then you can finish baking it in your regular oven.

The below recipes will get you started should you "rise" to the occasion!

Basic Sandwich Bread
makes 2 loaves

2 cups warm water (110 ° F )
2/3 cup sugar or honey (we use honey)
1 1/2 Tablespoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup oil (we use olive)
6 cups bread flour (we use 2 cups whole wheat and 4 cups bread flour)
1 Tablespoon vinegar (as a natural preservative) *
1 Tablespoon flax seed ground *
1 teaspoon wheat germ *
1 Tablespoon steel cut oats *

In a large bowl, completely dissolve the sugar or honey in warm water and then stir in yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam, about 10 minutes.

Mix salt and oil into the yeast. Add vinegar. Combine with the flour. Add any ingredients that have a (*) by them if you prefer. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic. It should be slightly sticky but not so sticky that it clings to your hands. If it is, add a little flour to obtain the right consistency. If it's too dry, it'll break or flake apart in crumbs; use a little more water in this case.

Place in a well oiled bowl, and turn dough to coat. Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half. Shape into two loaves, and place into two well oiled 9 x 5 inch loaf pans. Cover with a kitchen cloth or plastic wrap and allow to rise for 25-30 minutes, or until dough has risen 1 inch above pans.

Bake at 350 ° F for 30 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool on wire rack.

We currently have a West Bend Bread Machine. It is works great and is very durable.

Bread Machine Dough Version
(makes 1 loaf, as most all bread machines can only hold 1 loaf)

1 cups warm water (110 ° F)
1/3 cup sugar or honey (we use honey)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/8 cup oil (we use olive)
3 cups bread flour (we use 1 cups whole wheat and 2 cups bread flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar (as a natural preservative) *
1 1/2 teaspoon flax seed ground *
1/2 teaspoon wheat germ *
1 1/2 teaspoon steel cut oats *

Add water, sugar or honey, vinegar and oil to bread machine. Layer bread flour, salt, flax seed, wheat germ, oats and yeast. Set bread machine to dough setting.
When dough setting is complete, remove dough.
Shape into a loaf, and place into a well oiled 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Allow to rise for 25-30 minutes, or until dough has risen 1 inch above pans.

Bake at ° F for 30 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool on wire rack.

To freeze: Let loaf cool completely. Put in an airtight plastic freezer bag and place in freezer for up to six weeks.

To thaw: Take loaf out of the freezer and allow to thaw for at least 3 hours prior to use.