‘NATIONAL HOMEMADE BREAD DAY’
Today is ‘National Homemade Bread Day’ and what better way to spend a cool Sunday than to make a loaf of bread or two. I love homemade Bread and contrary to what most people think, it is simple and easy to do. Especially if you have a Food Processor or Standing Mixer, but even by hand it is easy to do. Bread Making is especially therapeutic if you have had a hard and stressful day or week. Bread Making is a great way to get rid of pent up energy, frustration or irritation.
To make Homemade Bread you don’t even need a recipe. For a basic loaf you only need 5 ingredients:
- Flour – provides the structure of the bread – gluten, the protein in wheat provides the strength needed for the bread’s walls.
- Yeast – is a live Organism which consumes the Sugar and gives off Carbon Dioxide, the same gas we breath out – the Carbon Dioxide makes the Dough expand and raise up.
- Sugar – Provides food for the Yeast
- Salt – Adds flavor and also keeps the Yeast from growing too much – too much growth will make the bread collapse (just like a balloon)
- Water – Holds everything together.
You do need to combine the above ingredients in correct proportions to yield a soft, but not sticky, Dough. If you use too much flour and the Dough is hard and stiff, the Bread will be tough and dry. Too much water and the Dough will be sticky and hard to knead and shape.
For a simple loaf bread that you are making by hand follow the proportions and directions below:
4 cups Flour
1 cup Liquid (If using Milk, you must scald it first or your Dough won’t rise – the enzymes in Milk, unless inactivated will prevent the Yeast from rising)
1 Tbsp. Yeast
1 Tbsp. Sugar
1 1/2 tsps. Salt
Place the Warm Liquid in a bowl along with the Yeast and Sugar; allow to stand about 5 minutes or until the Yeast starts to bubble. This is called proofing and will ensure that the Yeast is alive.
Stir in the Flour 1 cup at a time. After the second cup of Flour, add the Salt. After you have added about 3 cups Flour and the Dough holds together turn it out onto a floured surface and knead it for about 10 minutes, adding additional flour as needed. REMEMBER! YOU WANT A SOFT DOUGH, NOT A STIFF ONE!!
Once the Dough has been kneaded, place in a greased bowl, cover with a clean dish towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to raise. The Dough should raise to double its original size.
Once the Dough has risen, punch it down and shape it into a loaf. Place the loaf on a greased pan that has been sprinkled with Corn Meal and cover and let raise again. The bread in the photo below has been placed on a Pizza Peel that has been sprinkled with Cornmeal – this Bread was baked on a Baking Stone that was preheated in the oven to 500 degrees for one hour. The heat was turned down to 375 when the Bread was Baked. The Baking Stone ensures that the bottom of the Bread will have a nice crunchy crust.
Once the Bread has risen, het your oven to 375 degrees; brush the loaf with a beaten egg and bake until golden brown; the bottom should be somewhat darker than the top and should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
If you don’t trust your judgement use a meat thermometer to test the temperature – the inside of the loaf should register 140 degrees on the thermometer.
Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool; when cool enough to handle, loosen the sides with a straight-edged spatula, turn the pan oven and allow the Bread to drop down onto the rack.