I have been baking for as long as I can remember. I started as a young child, acting as the assistant to my mom when she made cookies or other baked goods. When I hit my teen years, I began baking on my own. I stuck with simpler baked goods: cookies, brownies, quick breads. When I became a mom and left my first career to stay home with my children, I decided to give yeast breads a try. Although it takes a little trial and error initially, I was hooked.
Baking yeast breads is a favorite pastime of mine, when I have the time for it. A single loaf of bread needs about three hours. While most of that is inactive time, baking bread is not something I can do while working or when I have places to go. However, on a quiet Saturday morning or lazy Sunday afternoon, homemade bread is a great addition to the menu. There’s something about working with this sort of dough. When it is done correctly, I can feel it. The dough is tender, not sticky, and works well in my hands. If you work with yeast dough often enough, you should become familiar with the feel of dough that has risen properly.
If you’re going to try making yeast breads, white bread is a good starting place. Simple, enjoyed by many, and the perfect addition to almost any meal, it makes a good introduction. It doesn’t require many ingredients and can be made into toast at breakfast or a nice side for a bowl of soup or salad.
- 1-1/2 Tb. butter
- 1-1/2 Tb. sugar
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup skim milk
- 2-1/4 tsp. rapid rise yeast
- 3/4 cup water
- 2-1/2 – 3 cups flour
- Combine butter, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Once butter has melted, remove from heat and add milk.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine milk mixture, yeast, water, and 2 cups flour. Attach dough hook, and mix on speed 2 for approximately one minute.
- Add flour, 1/4 cup at a time, continuing to mix on speed 2. Mix until dough clings to hook and cleans side of the bowl.
- Knead for an additional two minutes. Dough should be slightly sticky to touch.
- Remove dough from bowl. Grease stand mixer bowl with butter; return dough to bowl. Turn dough to grease top and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
- Place in a draft-free, warm place to rise for one hour.
- Punch dough down and shape into a loaf. Place in a greased 9×5 loaf pan; cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm place for one hour.
- Preheat oven to 400. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden.
- To test, tap top of the loaf; it should produce a hollow sound.
- Remove from pan and cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing.