As you know, I routinely bake bread. We as a family prefer the texture, taste, and quality of homemade bread to that over processed crap that you grab from the supermarket shelf. Bread making isn’t difficult, in fact, it is nowhere near as difficult as professional chefs try and make it out to be. Honestly, I throw the ingredients in the mixer, knead the dough, let it rise and bake it. Not complicated, not time consuming and the end result is the wonderful smell of homemade bread baking and the incredible taste and texture of the bread as the ultimate reward.
Over in Britain there is an amazing campaign called Real Bread. Focus of the campaign is to provide better quality bread products to residents and to teach residents how simple and easy it is to make bread themselves. The campaign is striving for lofty goals of preservative free bread and bread that has ingredients that are pronounceable and everyone knows what they are. Lucky UK residents can join the campaign for a mere £10 a year and get a large number of membership benefits. The movement is open to non-UK residents but the quality of membership is much diminished because lack of proximity to events, classes, and sources.
We here in America need to start a grass roots movement like this and take back what good bread means. Nothing quite beats a loaf of bread fresh from the oven.
Here is my husband’s favorite bread recipe*:
4 cups of bread flour
Pinch of Salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of active dry yeast
1 teaspoon of sugar
One stick of unsalted butter, small cubes
Water or milk
Toss the ingredients in the mixer and kneed with the dough hook attachment. Add enough liquid until the mixture forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Separate into two loaf pans, cover and let rise. Punch the dough down a couple of times just to let the air bubbles pop, and then cover and rise again. Bake in a 350 degree oven until golden brown.
Tips for Success
Milk will make a more tender loaf, but only if you use milk with a 2% or higher fat content. The amount of liquid you need will vary depending on where you live, more humid climates will require less liquid than dry climates. Bread prefers to rise in a warm environment, any house temperature above 75 should be sufficient. Best tip, don’t worry about having a perfect looking loaf or trying to become a world class bread baker overnight. Experiment, try what works for your tastes and your family’s preferences. Add ingredients that sound like they’d taste good.
Experimentation leads to failure sometime and it also leads to amazing successes! So join the growing movement of bread bakers and bake a loaf today.
*Not pictured above, the above loaf was Steakhouse Bread.