Homemade Bread – Finally!

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Well, we have made through the first week of school around here!  This is my first year with both of my kids gone and it is taking some getting used to.  Especially because I enjoy conversation, and there is no one here to listen to me!  I always enjoy “back to school” time.  It’s like it’s own New Years.  I always start off with such enthusiasm to be the best, most-organized and most-balanced mom in the world.  It usually only takes a few months to start failing at that!

I pack our kids a lunch everyday.  I’m not a fan of the school lunch program, for personal reasons.  However, now that we are three-quarters of year into this new way of life, I really am not a fan!  As school approached this summer, I realized that I really wanted to eliminate store-bought bread.  Up until this point, I have been buying pretty crappy (chemical-laden) bread, because it was often on sale for $1.00 a loaf.  I would buy 6 loaves at a time and it would last me a good three weeks.  When you really think about it, that’s kind of gross!  Then I would buy a couple more loaves locally, which cost me about $2.00 a loaf, to get me through the last week before I headed out for my grocery expedition.  The idea to start baking my own bread has been itching at me over the past few months.

The desire to learn how to bake bread isn’t new.  I’ve, actually, always had a secret desire to be a baker.  I had dreams in my younger years of owning a bakery where the smell of freshly baked breads spilled out of the building and drew hungry customers in.  I gave up that dream, when I learned that I stunk at making homemade bread.  I could never get it to rise right and it was always dense.

So, when this desire came back around this summer, I almost ignored it.  I reluctantly filled my shopping cart with that awful bread and wished I could have been better at it.  Finally, I hit the blogs, and I started looking into some new recipes.  I have tried a few.  One for an English Muffin bread that turned out okay.  Nothing to really to jump up and down about.  Then I found it, “the” recipe.  You can find the original here:  http://www.thecurvycarrot.com/2011/03/28/rosebuds-butter-topped-white-bread.  The very first time I tried it, it came out perfect!  I knew this was a special recipe then!  However, she does use a Kitchen Aid mixer, as did I, but I’m sure it would work just as well if you had to mix and knead it by hand, it would just take a long time.

Here’s the recipe for Rosebud’s Butter-Topped White Bread (2 Loaves):

Ingredients

4 and 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast (or the equivalent of two packets)

3/4 cup warm water (not HOT)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into pieces

2 and 2/3 cup additional warm water

9-10 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, for brushing the tops of the loaves

Additional butter/cooking spray, for greasing your rising bowl and loaf pans

Combine yeast and 3/4 warm water with a whisk in a large bowl and let sit for 5 minutes.  Add to the yeast mixture sugar, salt, butter and additional 2 2/3 cups warm water, with paddle attachment running add 5 cups flour.  Once the flour is well combined, add an additional 4-5 cups flour (I only use 4 additional cups) one cup at a time, allowing each added cup to mix in thoroughly.  Once combined, if you’re bowl isn’t big enough, divide the dough in half.  With the dough hook attached, begin kneading each half for approximately 10 minutes at low speed.  Once the dough is smooth, it is ready to transfer to a large bowl coated with cooking spray.  Combine both halves into one bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in warm, draft free area.  *Tip: I heat my oven prior to kneading to it’s lowest setting (170*) and then turn it off.  I then place my bowl inside the oven to rise.  Allow to rise for one hour, remove towel and punch dough down.  Divide the dough in half, and working with one half at a time, roll dough out on a heavily floured surface with a rolling pin to approximately 12″x12″.  Roll up – like you are making a snake with Play-Dough and pinch seam together.  Connect two ends together and pinch the seams.  Place dough, seam side down, in a greased bread pan.  Cover pans and allow dough to rise for another hour.  Bake in 425* oven for 15 minutes, remove from oven and loosely cover with aluminum foil and then bake for another 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and remove foil, rub 1 Tablespoon of butter over the top of the loaves and let cool.

We have been going through 3-4 loaves a week.  We started at 4 loaves because the bread is soooo good!  We couldn’t stop eating it!  We have found that because it’s so filling (without chemicals and fillers) and that they make big pieces, we aren’t eating as much of it either.  The kids have only been able to eat a half-sandwich.

Due to the volume of DIY going on in my kitchen, I have now started buying 25 lbs. bags of flour at Costco.  It costs me $7.59 for flour.  After I did the math of flour and butter and approximations of salt and yeast (all of which I buy in bulk at Costco), each loaf costs me about $.60-$.65, depending on the price of butter.  I don’t know how well this would work for me without my Kitchen Aid, it does the work for me.  However, we haven’t bought a loaf at the store in weeks and I enjoy making the bread.  It’s becoming second nature to me!

The finished product!

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