Thursday, August 28, 2008

I admit it:

I kind of enjoy the look of envy I get from people when they find out we mostly eat homemade bread (and not from a bread machine). That's why I've put off the bread post. Selfish, I know.

Store bread makes me gag, and forget about store buns for burgers because those are just nasty. (Yes, I do have rush days that I pretend the squishy stuff from a bag is real bread, sadly.) Fortunately, it's not as difficult as people would have you think.
Homemade burger buns

Remember those commercials for rice crispy treats? The mom is sitting in the kitchen reading, the kids keep yelling from the other room to ask if they are done yet. Finally, the mom splatters herself with flour, musses up her hair, and carries the tray of treats into the other room, doing her best to look as though she has worked long and hard on treats that took no time to make. Well, my bread is a lot like that.

The dough can be used for anything: cinnamon rolls, pretzels, pizza dough, doughnuts, bread sticks, etc.
Before I give you the recipe, here are a few tips:

*I mix the dough in a big bowl, knead it there, and then spread oil in the same bowl for the dough to rise. That way, I don't have a mess on the counter.

*I buy my yeast in bulk. You can get it at Sam's Club, GFS, or even some health food stores. I get mine at GFS, about $2 a pound, which is a much better deal than packets.

*This dough gets really big, so I don't even bother to cover the bowl. If I do have to cover the dough, I use greased plastic wrap.

*I use only unbleached flour.

Ok, *deep breath*, here goes:
2 cups lukewarm water
3 Tbs sugar
3 Tbs yeast
Mix those together in a big bowl. Then add:
2 cups flour
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbs kosher salt
Mix well, then add additional flour, a little at a time, until you have a dough about the consistency of playdough.  This can be up to four cups, but it usually doesn't take that much. 

Knead, adding sprinkles of flour if dough is still very sticky.  Try not to get dough too heavy; the less flour, the fluffier the bread.

Grease the bowl and let rise till double (or bigger). The time will vary depending on heat and humidity.
For bread: Grease loaf pans, divide dough in half, reshape and let rise. I usually let mine rise till it fills up the loaf pan. It will continue to rise while baking, so make sure you leave room between the oven racks and burners or you'll have a big mess.

If you don't have a loaf pan, you can make "Hawaiian" type loaves: separate dough in half and shape into balls, place on greased baking sheet.

Bake at 375 for about 20-30 minutes. The baking time will vary depending on the size of the loaf pan (I have at least three sizes myself). The bigger loaves can take about 40 minutes. For best results, once the top has browned and the loaf is firm enough (after about 20 minutes), slide the loaf out of the pan and bake for another ten minutes, or until done.  Loaf should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Garlic-Parmesan Bread Sticks
For bread sticks, press dough onto greased pan, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with garlic salt and Parmesan cheese, bake at 350 till browned on the bottom and top, and then brush with melted butter. You can also make them with cinnamon and sugar instead of garlic and cheese.

*Note:  Homemade bread is of course free of the tons of extra preservatives that store bread has. Therefore, it won't keep as long.  Store leftovers in the fridge or freezer.  An extra loaf is great to freeze and then slice up later for Texas Toast.  Just coat with butter or olive oil and garlic and broil til lightly browned.  

Let me know how yours turns out!!


City Mouse said...

Your bread recipe is very close to mine - I honestly wish I had more time to make my bread more often. One of the problems is that there is only two of us, and how much bread can we possibly eat - it goes stale and sits. I love it though!

Vamp said...

recipe stolen...thanks for the tip on yeast in bulk.

Tammy said...

I can't wait to try this!!! Thank you so much!!! My kids love homemade bread, but I only have a bread machine recipe. These pics look delicious!!! Those hamburger buns look amazing!!!