The process of preparing and baking homemade bread can be intimidating if you don’t have much experience working with dough and yeast. However, the joys of baking bread far outweigh the few mishaps you may have when you’re just getting started (and, of course, even your first loaf may turn out beautifully!).
Some of those joys include saving a bundle on your grocery bill over time, filling your home with the classic, comforting aroma of freshly baked bread, and walking away from every loaf with a newfound self-confidence and do-it-yourself attitude.
One of the most common types of bread consumed at home is sandwich bread, so here’s a recipe for simple sandwich bread.
Ingredients and Supplies:
3 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1 tbsp softened butter
1 egg, preferably from a pastured chicken for the rich color and nutrition the yolk provides, beaten
1 tsp salt
2 1⁄4 tsp dried yeast
1 1⁄4 cups milk at room temperature
1 bread tin, buttered
1 egg, beaten and thinned with water, for brushing (optional)
Note: If rehydrating yeast with water, subtract the amount of water you added to the yeast from the 1 1⁄4 cups of milk.
Put flour in a mixing bowl along with the softened butter. Use your fingers to work the butter into the flour until no large pieces remain. Next, add the beaten egg, salt and yeast. Holding the bowl with one hand, stir in enough warm milk to form a dough. At this point, the dough should be raggedy and rough.
Turn onto a lightly floured board, wash your hands of dough, and with wet hands knead a few times to be sure the dough is well-mixed, then place in a clean, lightly buttered bowl and let the dough rise, covered, in a warm place. After it has doubled in bulk (about 1 1/2 hours), turn onto a lightly floured board. Gently press out the gas and form dough into a rectangle to fit into a buttered bread tin. Cover, set in as warm a place as you have, and let rise until nearly doubled. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
When the bread is ready, brush the top of the loaf with a beaten egg thinned with a little water (this step is optional). Bake until crust is golden, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven, turn out of the tin, and let cool on its side for at least 3 hours before cutting.
For an interesting and inspirational outlook on the free-form process of bread-making, plus recipes for Crusty White Bread and a Multi-Grain Opulent Farmers’ Bread, check out Homemade Bread: Truly Easy and Delicious.
Photo by Jim MacKenzie