Thursday, January 10, 2019

YEAST BREAD FOR BEGINNERS

COME ON, BE BRAVE!!!
YOU CAN SUCCEED AT BAKING BREAD !!

I've been making this bread recipe (at least once a week) for nearly 40 years and it has never failed me. It is a basic, no frills, white bread that goes together in minutes and is nearly fool proof. 




OR



5 cups Better for Bread Flour (see note below about flour)
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 Scant tablespoon of table salt
2 envelopes of rapid rise yeast (see note about yeast)
4 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
2 1/2 cups very warm (not hot) water (about 120 degrees)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, place 2 cups of bread flour, 2 packets of rapid rise yeast (I use 2 level tablespoons because I buy it in a larger jar), 4 tablespoons of granulated sugar, 1 scant tablespoon of table salt and 4 tablespoons of vegetable or canola oil.

Stir together, then add 2 1/2 cups warm water. Mix with spoon and let it all sit for about 10 minutes.

If you are concerned about the temperature of the water in this recipe, you can use an instant read thermometer with your first few batches of bread (just to reassure yourself). However, it is NOT rocket science and after you make bread a few times, you will learn exactly what the water temperature is supposed to feel like, just by holding your hand under the running tap water. It should be about 120 degrees.



After the dough has set for about 10 minutes (time is not critical), start adding the rest of the flour...1/2 cup at a time, mixing with a sturdy spoon in between each addition. When the dough gets too thick to mix, attach a dough hook to your stand mixer and turn it to low.

NOW HERE IS AN IMPORTANT TIP

When making your dough, at this stage, something I call "dough shag" is (can be) your enemy. If you have added too much flour, too fast, you will get "dough shag" or dry shaggy pieces of dough.

Click on this next photo so you can see the dry white sections or layers next to the wet sections of dough. 

Click on the photo to see the
shag more clearly


 Shag is not totally a bad thing, it is just a clue that it is NOT time to add more flour yet. NEVER ADD MORE FLOUR IF YOU CAN SEE SHAG.

Here is another photo, see the shag?
I intentionally added the flour a little too quickly (in this next photo) so you could see what I mean by "shag".

Click on photo


 Don't panic if you see shag, just keep "kneading" with your dough hook (or by hand) and the shag will eventually incorporate into the wet dough. Don't add more flour until it looks more like this:



Eventually, you will get all 5 cups of flour into the dough. When that happens, let your machine knead the dough (gently, on a low setting) for about 6-8 minutes (or by hand for 6-8 minutes).

Stop you mixer every once in a while and pull all the dough off of the dough hook, scrape down the inside walls of your bowl and turn the ball of dough completely over and start the mixer again. You will need to do this a few times until the shag totally disappears and the dough clings together in a nice semi-solid "glob".

At the end of 6 to 8 minutes (exact time is not critical), the dough should have worked itself into a smooth ball that stays on the dough hook when you raise the hook out of the bowl. The interior walls of the bowl should be fairly clean and should look like this:





See how the dough ball has "cleaned" all of the little bits off of the bottom and sides of the bowl? This is what you want to see. The dough will not be sticky and it will feel sort of like soft "Play Doh" when you touch it. 

If the dough is too soft, it will pull itself off of the dough hook. If that happens, add another quarter cup of flour and knead it a little longer.

When your final dough is smooth, remove it from the dough hook, form it into a ball and place it in a greased bowl (I use a little vegetable spray). Spray the top of the dough with a little more, and cover it with plastic:






 Place this covered bowl of dough in a nice warm place in your kitchen. Room temperature is OK, but if you have a warmer place (less than 100 degrees) place it there. After an hour, your dough will have doubled in size.




Your dough should look
like this after an hour
(doubled in size)

After the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto your counter. Some people say flour the counter at this stage, but I NEVER do. Push all of the air out of the dough and cover it with an inverted empty bowl (or plastic wrap) and let it sit for 15 minutes to relax (this will make your dough much easier to handle when you try to form it).

Depending on how you want to shape your dough, follow these general directions.....

If you are making loaf bread for slicing, cut the dough into two or three equal pieces, depending on how large your loaf pans are. I like to use 9"x5" loaf pans (this recipe makes 2).

Roll each piece into a rectangle about 8"x10" (size not critical). Starting at the short end, roll it up tightly into a log and pinch all of the "seams" shut. Place in a greased loaf pan (I use vegetable spray) and then I spray a little more on the top of the formed loaf. 

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it raise for 1 hour or until it is doubled in size. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes. Remove from pan immediately and brush top with butter (optional) and let it cool on a baking rack.

If you are making rolls, just pinch off pieces about the size of a golf ball, roll them into a round shape and place them in a greased 9" baking pan with sides of the "dough balls" almost touching. Spray a little vegetable spray on top and loosely cover with plastic. Let raise for an hour or until doubled in size. Bake at 400° for 18 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and brush tops with butter (optional) and let them cool on baking rack.

 
Hamburger Buns

Sandwich Rolls 



This bread freezes 
very well

NOTE ABOUT YEAST

NOTE: Yeast comes in little 1/4 ounce envelopes (2 1/4 teaspoons per envelope). However, I buy yeast by the jar, so I always just use 2 tablespoons of yeast per recipe; just make sure you check the expiration date on the yeast (very important) !!!

NOTE ABOUT FLOUR:

Many first time bread bakers think that if their bread didn't turn out perfectly, it was because of the yeast and that is not always the case.

The problem could EASILY be your flour. Cake flour, low gluten flour, or even worse yet, OLD low gluten flour, will produce faulty bread every time. If your flour is six months old, THROW IT OUT!!

Make sure you use a 
HIGH GLUTEN FLOUR,
this is extremely important.

I made mediocre bread for years, until I discovered these two flours; they make all the difference in the world.

Personally, I like the
Gold Medal Flour the best!!



NOTE ABOUT FLOUR: You will have much more success in your bread making if you understand that the amount of flour that goes into a recipe varies from day to day; depending on your climate. 

Many serious bakers weigh their flour, but I find that keeping a close eye on how the flour is "behaving" works better than weighing. On a rainy day, it may take a tablespoon of flour less than on a hot -dry day. So be stingy with that last half cup of flour until you see how the dough acts in YOUR climate. Keep in mind that too much flour makes for a DRY bread. 

NOTE ABOUT YEAST: I buy yeast  by the jar and there are two kinds at my grocery store: Regular yeast and Rapid Rise Yeast. If you buy regular yeast, you will have to dissolve it in 1/2 cup warm water for about 10 minutes BEFORE you add to the recipe.




If you use Rapid Rise yeast, you don't have to pre-dissolve it. 

Some people are afraid they will "kill the yeast" if the water they use to "dissolve" it, is too hot. My own "rule of thumb" is that the water should not be any hotter than you would safely feed a baby with (does that make sense?) It works every time.

NOTE ABOUT DOUGH RISE: A lot of people have granite counter tops which are usually cool to the touch. This will effect the length of time your bread takes to raise. I suggest that you find a warmer place to let your bowl of dough raise than on the granite. You can also place a nice thick towel on your granite counter top and let your bread pan sit on top of it. Make sure there is no draft in the area where you let your dough raise.

I hope you give this recipe a try, it really is fun once you get over the "nervousness" of bread making. You can use this recipe to make sandwich bread, bread rolls, bread sticks, pizza dough  and a million other things........come on, you CAN make bread....be brave and have fun!!



ENJOY !!!!!

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