Best thing since sliced bread…

7 Jan

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I am always making special trips to the grocery store for the same items every week! We go through about two loaves of bread every week. The organic bread we buy at Whole Foods costs $3.99 per loaf, and there are never any coupons for it! That means we spend $31.92 on bread alone every single month! That’s $383.04 a year!

I am really tired of having to constantly spend money on bread, and since I’m not willing to sacrifice and buy the cheaper non-organic bread, I decided that 2012 is time for a change.

I am going to MAKE all of our bread this year! I found a great recipe for white sandwich bread. It is literally the best bread I have ever eaten, and I did a few rough calculations, and each loaf costs only $0.80! Each recipe makes two loaves, which is exactly what we need each week. Now we’ll only spend about $76.00 a year on bread! That’s a savings of $307.04 per year!

I’ll be making the bread on Sunday afternoons. It takes a few hours to make, but the actual hands on time is only about 20 minutes. I really enjoy baking, so this is right up my alley. I can’t wait to test out recipes for wheat bread and egg bread too!

I did some research online, and found this recipe from The Hungry Mouse.

This site offered valuable info about yeast:

Three important things to know about yeast

  1. Keep your yeast cold—It’s a living organism, and too much heat will kill it. (Dead yeast = dough that doesn’t rise.) The fridge or freezer is best.
  2. Measure your yeast by hand—Especially if it comes in those little paper packets. (You know the ones I mean.) The amount in each envelope can vary a fair amount.
  3. Always proof your yeast at the beginning of a recipe—Most recipes will start with something like, “Add your yeast to lukewarm water and let it sit for 10 minutes.” When it bubbles, you know it’s happy and alive. That way, you know if you have a problem with your yeast BEFORE you add all the other ingredients to the dough.

Homemade Sandwich Bread

2 cups lukewarm water
2 Tbls. sugar
1 Tbls. dry active yeast
2 Tbls. butter, softened
5 1/2 cups all purpose flour + more for kneading the dough
1 Tbls. kosher salt

Yields 2 standard loaves

Put the water and the sugar into a large mixing bowl ( I used my standup mixer)

Whisk until the sugar is dissolved

Add the yeast, whisking to dissolve.

Allow the yeast to sit for 5-10 minutes. (This is called proofing the yeast.) After 10 minutes there should be a thick creamy layer on top of the water. Seen here are my Willow House Pixie measuring spoons which you can purchase on my website, here.

This means that your yeast is alive and well. You can now move on to the next step.

Making the Dough

Add the flour and the salt to the yeast mixture

Cut the soft butter up into small pieces.

Toss the butter into your mixing bowl with the flour.

Mix well to combine the dough. When using your stand mixer, use the dough hook. Great advice from The Hungry Mouse: When using your stand mixer, get the dough started by hand first in order to prevent the flour from flying out everywhere.

Knead the dough for 3-5 minutes.

It’s ready when a smooth ball has formed that’s elastic-y to the touch.

One sign that the dough has been kneaded enough is that very little dough will be stuck to the hook or the sides of the bowl.

The First Rise

Round the dough into a ball and put it into a very large greased bowl.

Coat a piece of plastic wrap with a little bit of canola oil. Loosely cover the bowl with the oil side down. Let the bowl sit in a warm place for about an hour, or until the dough doubles in size. Check after 15 minutes, and you should notice that it has already started to rise.

Form the Bread Loaves

Punch the bread in the center. Mashing out the air. Knead it a couple of times in the bowl and form it into a neat ball. It should be tacky but not sticky. Sprinkle a little bit of flour onto a board. Cut the dough in half with either a bencher or a large knife.

Pick up one half of the dough. Knead it a few times by folding it into thirds over and over again.

The Second Rise

Lightly grease two one pound loaf pans. Seen here is my beautiful Gail Pittman Alfresco loaf pan from my Willow House store (which you can purchase from my store here).  Set the formed loaf into the first loaf pan and repeat with the second ball of dough.

Set the pans in a warm place uncovered.

Let the dough rise for one hour or until they double in size.

About 15 minutes before your hour is up preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bake the Bread

When the dough has doubled in size, put them into your preheated oven for 35-40 minutes.

When they’re done, the tops should be light brown.

After cooling for 5 minutes in the pans, turn upside down (using potholders) to remove from the loaf pans.

Allow to cool completely on wire racks.

**Another tip to know your bread is done…thump it on the bottom, and if it sounds hollow, it’s done!

**Let the bread cool completely before slicing. The center can still be a tad gummy until it has cooled all the way.

Bread will keep well, tightly wrapped on the counter or the fridge, for about 4 days. If, of course, it lasts that long. (You can freeze a loaf to last longer)

YUMMMMM!

3 Responses to “Best thing since sliced bread…”

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