Homemade bread is something I've always been afraid to try, mostly because I'm worried that I'll end up with something that resembles a brick (in weight and texture). Maybe it was the long weekend that got me relaxed and easy going, but I thought I'd give it a try today.
The recipe I used was the one I found on the package of Red Star Quick-Rise Yeast. As you can see from the picture, the end result looked great. And it tasted good too. The inside was still warm and dense and soft while the outside was crusty.
Making this bread today reminded me of when I was young and my mom would take my sister and me to the grocery store with her. The last stop before coming home was the local baker where she would pick up a couple of baguettes. I would sit in the back seat of our white Datsun station wagon and break off the end of the baguette and dig in. By the time we got home, the baguette was hollow and my sister was fuming! Ha! I can still remember how mad she would get.
Anyway, the recipe was simple:
6.5 to 7 cups AP flour
2 pkgs quick-rise yeast
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Combine 3 cups of flour, yeast, sugar and salt and mix well.
Blend at low speed until moistened (I used a large plastic mixing spoon), beat for 3 minutes (again, I used the spoon).
Gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a firm dough.
Knead on floured surgace till smooth and elastic (5-8 minutes; I did 8 minutes).
Place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place till almost doubled (30 min).
Punch down and divide dough into two parts.
On a lightly floured surface, roll each half into a rectangle (recipe suggests 14" x 7"; I didn't get out my tape measure).
Roll up tightly (starting with shorter side) and pinch the edges and ends to seal.
Place each roll into a greased loaf pan.
Cover and let rise for about 20 minutes, or until an indentation remains after lightly touching the side of the loaf.
Preheat oven to 400F and bake for about 35-40 minutes until golden brown.
Remove from the pan as soon as you take it out of the oven. Cool.
Since I just baked this today, I'm not really sure how long the bread will keep well, but I'm going to venture to say it will keep for about 3-4 days out on the counter. If I'm wrong, I'll update this post.
Next homemade bread experiment will involve cinnamon and raisin; the one following that will involve wheat flour mixed in and possibly some nuts and grains too.
I hope you give this a try too. It was worth it and not near as hard as I thought it would be. Yeah, it's a little time consuming (rising, baking, kneading), but the taste is worth the time.