For the past couple of months, I have been trying to find the P-E-R-F-E-C-T sandwich bread recipe. With the rising cost of food in this neck of the woods, bread was on the list to be removed from my shopping list. Store bought bread in general for our family includes loaf bread, hamburger, and hotdog buns and I was spending $15.00 every two weeks on bread. Gut wrenching, I know! Anytime, I mention making homemade bread, experienced bread bakers always suggest King Arthur Flour's website. There are literally over 700 recipes just for bread listed on their website. I have tried several of the recipes over the past few weeks and just could not get over how fast they hardened. Reading over the reviews for each recipe, I could not find anything to help me out.
Something hit me while reading one night last week, I have several recipes that I used when I was first learning to bake bread and loved them. After using them for awhile, I began thinking I needed a better recipe. So I veered away from them and began looking for greener grass on the other side of the fence. After gazing at those greener pastures, I gave up baking bread because I was just not happy with the product.
Last Thursday, I baked a loaf of THIS bread with a couple of modifications. Would you believe the last 1/4 portion of the loaf is still soft? It's 7:30 on Sunday evening and that bread is still soft like store bought bread? This time last week, I was waiting on a loaf of bread to proof so my husband would have soft bread for his lunch on Monday morning. Tonight, I'm writing this blog post telling you that "the greener grass on the other side of the fence" is not always as green!
Back to the basics! I have quickly learned going back to the basics for our bread is just what I needed to do along with a few modifications. The original recipe called for sugar and oil, this time I used honey and butter.
Basic Homemade Bread
2 cups warm water
2 TBSP honey
1 ½ TBSP active dry yeast
1 ½ tsp salt
¼ cup butter
6 cups flour
In mixing bowl add water, honey and yeast; let proof 5 minutes. Next add flour, butter (soften the butter until it is a thick consistency, not a liquid) and salt. Turn on mixer and mix until a ball forms and then turn up on medium and knead between 5- 8 minutes. Remove the dough hook and cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until dough has doubled, about an hour.
Remove dough and form into two loaves and let rest for about 5 minutes. Place in greased loaf pans and cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees when the dough has about 15 minutes left in the second rising.
Place the pans in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
If your bread turns really brown towards the end of the baking process, make an aluminum foil tent and place over the bread to keep from becoming too dark.
Cool on a cooling rack and cool completely before storing to keep the bread from molding.
*** This is an easy recipe to cut in half to make one loaf.***I know many people look down on white bread and that's okay. My husband usually goes along with me when it comes to healthy eating, but he'd rather give up bacon than his white bread. As long as he is happy, I am happy!