Thursday, May 17, 2012

Homemade Bread

One of my strongest memories growing up is when my mother would make homemade bread. The pungent, sweet aroma of yeast bread baking in the oven envelops your every sense like a father's hug. There is no smell like it on earth, period. Tonight, I made a Country Loaf, which is basically a white bread that should be made with bread flour. Alas, I didn't have any, so I used good old AP flour, but my next loaf, I will try it with bread flour, which has a higher gluten content which is very good when baking bread as it helps create those bubbles that allow for pockets of steam which ultimately makes your bread light and airy. This recipe came from my Weight Watchers cookbook, of all places. Don't let that make you think this bread won't be good - it's amazing. Go ahead, bake a loaf, close your eyes and lose yourself in that great big bear hug.

Country Loaf
3 cups bread flour or 3 cups AP flour + 3 tbs AP flour
1 packet quick-rise yeast
2 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup hot water (about 120 degrees)
2 tbs butter, melted

1. Combine the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a food processor bowl. Turn the machine on and mix for about 1 minute. With the machine running, drizzle the water down the feeding tube. After the dough forms a ball, continue to process for 45 seconds to knead.

2. Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray (or oil lightly); place dough in the bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 40 minutes.

3. Spray an 8-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray (or oil lightly). Punch down the dough, knead it a few times, and shape it into a loaf. Place it in the pan. Cover with a towel, and set aside for the dough to double again, about 45 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake the bread 10 minutes. With a sharp knife, make a slit down the center of the bread (lengthwise) and drizzle with the butter. Return to the oven and bake until the loaf is well browned and sounds hollow when tapped, about 20 minutes longer. Remove the loaf from the pan and cool on a rack.

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