I love working with yeast and making homemade breads, roll, sticky buns, etc. Quite a few years ago I went on a quest to make good, “soft, finely textured” bread. Mine tended to be coarse. It was ok but not superb. After experimenting, this is the recipe that works for me.
I am doing the instructions with pictures so that even the first time or novice baker can tackle the recipe with confidence and success.
My original recipe came from the “More With Less Cookbook” (page 63) compiled by Doris Janzen Longacre. I have adjusted it slightly.
Stir together in 2 c. glass measuring cup until dissolved. When it starts to bubble (approx. 5 mins) and gets foamy looking add to the ingredients in the large mixing bowl.
2 pkgs (or 2 T.) Dry Yeast
1 c. Warm Water
1-1/2 tsp. Sugar
In large mixing bowl:
1/2 c. Sugar
1 T. Salt
8 T. Vegetable Oil
3-1/2 c. Warm Water
Above yeast mixture
6 c. Bread Flour
Beat on high speed for 5 minutes. This seems to be my secret to soft bread. It break down the yeast molecules and makes a very elastic dough. Gradually add another 3 c. Bread flour and beat on slower speed.
I love my Kitchen Aid mixer and have to do almost no hand mixing with my dough.
Change to your dough hooks and add another 2 c. flour.
When the dough starts to form a ball around my dough hooks it is time to stop.
Put the dough into a large bowl in which you have sprinkled a small amount of flour to keep from sticking. At this point your dough is almost done.
With your hands work the dough a few more minutes and add another 1 c. flour (if needed).
You do not want to add to much flour-just enough that it is not sticky. Fold the dough over several times making a nice smooth ball and cover the top with vegetable oil.
Cover the bowl with a cloth and let the dough rise until double (approx. 1 hour).
Punch the dough down and you are ready to form into loaves. Notice how soft and puffy the dough is.
Using a sharp knife I cut the dough into four equal parts.
Sprinkle some flour on your countertop and with your rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle that is approx. 12″ wide and 16-18 ” long.
From the narrow end roll up the dough into a roll and pinch the edges closed. Place into a greased 9″x5″ bread pan. Take a fork and stick the top of the dough 8-10 times. Coat with vegetable oil and then cover with a cloth.
Let rise until double in size or until it rises about 2 inches above the edge of the pan. If you let rise too much it will get too large. It will rise some in the oven as it starts to bake.
Bake at 325 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
Remove from oven when the loaves are golden brown but not dark. Do NOT overbake or you will have dry, crusty bread. Immediately brush or rub the top of the loaves with Crisco.
Remove from pans and let cool on cloth and cover with cloth.
Yield: 4 loaves
Time: Allow 5-6 hours from start to finish. Finish is when the bread is sliced and in the freezer!
I wanted some rolls for sandwiches (barbecue, hamburgers or brisket) but I wanted them to be more like a hamburger bun than a dinner roll. So I rolled them out 1″ thick and cut with a biscuit cutter.
I spaced them on the baking sheet so they could rise without being too crowded and coated the tops with vegetable oil .
It worked perfect. I was so pleased with the results. I let them rise 30 minutes or so and then baked at 325 for 25 minutes-just until lightly brown. I rubbed the tops with Crisco.
I removed them from the tray onto a cloth to cool. I sliced them in half with my electric knife.
Yield: 5 dozen (60) rolls.
Hints and tips:
- Bread does better on low-pressure days such as rainy, snowy, etc. When it is high pressure the weight on the atmosphere can hinder the bread from rising as well.
- Because homemade bread contains no preservatives, it gets stale fast. After the bread cools, I slice it with my electric knife and freeze in zip lock bags. I take out only what we want for the meal. This way I am always eating good, fresh, soft, bread.
- What if I don’t have a big mixer? No problem. You can still make good bread. If you have a small mixer, only add a few cups of flour and beat it hard. You don’t want to stall out the motor on your mixer. Then add the rest by hand, one cup at a time, stirring with a spoon until it becomes stiff enough work it with your hands. Fold it over and over, make a fist and work it with your knuckles until it is smooth and elastic. You want to fold air into the dough. You can do it totally by hand-using no mixer- but it takes more hand work and it is harder to get as soft and fine textured bread.
- Do you prefer yeast in the packages or bulk yeast? I prefer bulk. I buy it in a jar and keep it in the freezer. Keeps forever! Also, when I have bulk I use 1 T. whenever the recipe calls for 1 pkg. A package is actually not quite a tablespoon so you have better results as you are using a little more yeast.
- How do you know if your yeast is good? It only takes a minute or two for the yeast to start to bubble when you have used warm water (you should be able to put your fingers in the water and be comfortable) and fed it with a little sugar. If it does not bubble, it is no good. I have never had that happen.
- Do I have to use Bread Flour? No you don’t but bread flour makes a softer bread. It is a “hard” wheat flour. Normal flour is “soft” wheat.
After you roll the dough into a rectangle cover with 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon.
Roll into a roll starting with the widest side.
Cut the roll into 1-2/2 thick slices and put the slices into a greased bread pan by setting the slices on edge. This gives it a braided look.
Let rise until double and bake the same as above.
When done, immediately remove the loaf from the pan and set on a piece of tin foil. Let the loaf cool upside down before flipping it.
When cool, flip the loaf right side up and drizzle with a glaze made from XXX sugar and milk.
After you roll the dough into a rectangle cover with 2 T. melted butter and sprinkle with granulated garlic, and dried onions, Parmesan cheese, and chives. Roll into a roll starting with the widest side. Cut the roll into 1-2/2 thick slices and put the slices into a greased bread pan by setting the slices on edge. Sprinkle the top with sesame seeds. Let rise until double and bake the same as above. When done, immediately remove the loaf from the pan. Brush the top with Crisco and cover with cloth to cool.
Tip: Don’t bake the garlic bread in the oven with any of the other kinds of bread. The flavor seems to spread and you’ll have garlic flavored cinnamon bread if you’re not careful!
Depending on the strength of whole wheat bread that you like, simply substitute whole wheat flour for white flour. The more whole wheat you add, the heavier the bread.
One day I was at my sister-in-law’s (Marj Heatwole) house and she was making bread. She makes the best, softest, finest textured whole wheat bread of anyone I know. It is absolutely yummy!
Anyways, I suddenly became aware of how she was doing it and it was all wrong according to my standards or any cookbook recipes. She broke all the rules! She mixed all the dry ingredients together and then the liquid and it was the lumpiest mess I have ever seen. I questioned her about how her bread turned out the way it did.
Her answer… before she married my brother, he told her that the one thing he asked of her was to make homemade bread. It terrified her as it seemed so intimidating and she did not know how. She made it a matter of prayer and asked the Lord to help her. Obviously He did. I knew that prayer was too late for me!!!! I didn’t have that bargaining chip! I was already married and making bread and neither had my husband made that a request!!!
Moral of the story…sometimes what works for one person does not work for another. Sometimes you have to experiment! And maybe, sometimes you simply have to just pray!