Friday, February 17, 2012

Basic White Bread

This is the bread I make all the time. When I was on maternity leave in 2008, I decided that I would start to bake all our own bread. It worked fine until the twins arrived, and then I was just too tired to do anything extra, except look after the twins, the toddler and myself - so we bought bread.
Now that the twins are sleeping through the night (from 9pm - 6am-ish) I have my energy back, and have started making it again.
In my last post for Vegetable Herb Bread, I said there was nothing like the smell of freshly baking bread wafting through the house, and it's true. There is no smell I love more - it even tops the smell of freshly baked chocolate anything.
This recipe for white bread is a recipe I have adapted from King Arthur Flour. They have wonderful recipes and I am lucky to own two of their cookbooks. There is also a fabulous selection of baking recipes on their website, so if ever you are lacking for ideas, check out their site. You can buy baking ingredients online too - specialty baking products, flour blends, and many things exclusive to King Arthur Flour.

Basic White Bread
adapted from a recipe by King Arthur Flour (from the book The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook)
makes 1 loaf

3 cups flour
1 & 3/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 & 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 & 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup potato flakes (instant mashed potato)
1/2 cup milk, warmed
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons warm water

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook. Mix slowly to combine, then increase speed to #3 and knead for 8 minutes, until dough is smooth. You may need to add a little more water - the dough should be soft and a little tacky (not enough to stick to the sides of the bowl, but enough to stay in a lump).
After 8 minutes, transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm place until risen (not necessarily doubled), about 1 hour.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface and shape it into an 8" log. Transfer the log to a lightly greased 8.5" x 4.5" loaf pan, cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the bread rise for another hour.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Uncover the pan and bake the bread for 35-40 minutes, tenting it with aluminum foil for the final 10-15 minutes if it appears to be browning too quickly.
Remove the bread from the oven, take it out of the pan, and place on a wire rack to col completely. After 15 minutes, brush it with butter, if desired. This will give it a soft crust.

PS - told you I like the butter spread on thick!


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