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Very Simple Bread Recipe

This is a very simple white bread recipe that I found on a website some time ago. Quite inexpensive and likely easy to modify and experiment with.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 5 teaspoons sugar (or 1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 5 teaspoons butter (or 1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 1 package active dry yeast (you can get yeast near the flour at your local grocery store)
  • 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups flour (get unbleached white for your first attempt)
  • Corn starch or nonstick cooking spray (just to prevent the bread from sticking to the bowl or pan)

OK, let’s get started. First, you should warm up the bowl - the best way to do that is to just fill it with hot water, then dump out the hot water, leaving the bowl rather warm. Then, mix up the yeast according to the directions on the packet. Usually, it will say something along the lines of “add a cup of warm water to the yeast and stir.” What you’ll end up with is some tan-colored water with some bubbles in it. You should stir this until there are no lumps in the yeast.

Melt the butter in the microwave, then add it, the milk, the sugar, and the salt to the yeast liquid and stir it up until everything looks the same (a very light tan liquid). Then add two cups of flour to the mix - don’t add the rest yet.

Start stirring, and then add the flour about 1/4 cup at a time every minute or so. It will stick to the spoon big time at first - don’t worry about it. Keep stirring and adding flour until the dough is still slightly sticky, but it doesn’t stick to your hands in any significant way. Also, it should largely clean the sides of the bowl, leaving just a thin layer of floury stuff.

Now comes the fun part: kneading. Take a bit of flour between your hands and then rub them together over the top of an area on the table where you’re going to knead the dough. Do this a few times until there’s an area on the table lightly covered in flour. Then grab the dough ball out of the bowl, slap it down on the table, and start beating on it. Do this for ten minutes. Just take the dough, punch it flat, then fold it back up into a ball again, and repeat several times. I also like to take it in my hands and squeeze and twist it.

When the ten minutes are up, shape it into a ball, then either clean up the bowl you were using before or get out another bowl. Either coat the inside lightly with corn starch or nonstick cooking spray, depending on your preference, then put the ball of dough inside the bowl.

Put a cloth over the bowl and sit it somewhere fairly warm for an hour. If you have a warming area on your stove top, that’s a great place to put it - set the warming area on as low as it will go, as I’m doing in the picture above. This is a good time to clean everything else and put the stuff away, but leave the flour out and the floured area on your table untouched.

It should be roughly double the size that it was before, but don’t sweat it too much if it’s larger or smaller than that, as long as it rose at least some amount. Punch the dough down (three or four good whacks will cause it to shrink back down to normal), then lay the dough out on the floured area and spread it out in a rectangle shape, with one side being roughly the length of the bread pan and the other side being about a bread pan and a half long.

You may need to put a bit more flour on it and on the table to prevent sticking. Then, roll it up! The roll should be roughly the same size as the bread pan. Tuck the ends of the roll underneath, with the “under” side being where the seam is. Then spray the bread pan down with nonstick cooking spray (or coat it with cornmeal) and put the loaf inside of the pan.

Cover that loaf up with the towel, put it back where it was before, and wait another hour. This is a good time to clean everything up, then go do something else fun. The loaf should raise some more. Put that loaf in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius) for thirty minutes. When it’s done, pull it out and immediately remove it from the pan to cool.