Since my last post about making bread, Not To Toot My Own Horn, I have been much too scared to even try making my own bread again. My confidence from last time completely vanished. I haven't found anyone to fix my bread machine, so the general consensus in our home is to just toss it. I'm sad though, because it has been a faithful friend in my kitchen for the last two years. Ok, not really sad, but you know what I mean, right? Now I get the pleasure of spending $100 on a new one next weekend once our tax return comes. I'd still rather keep my old one if it were working.
My dear husband has been patient with store bought french bread from Safeway, but today he asked me to try make some from scratch again. I did try everything to get out of it, even offer to go to Safeway and pick some up, but he wouldn't have it.
So out came the Amish cookbook that I have, and I found a recipe for Homemade Bread, as follows. However, I will make a few suggestions; if you halve the recipe like I did, only add 3.5 cups of flour, not 4. With 4 you are going to have to add more water as you knead it because it gets too try to do anything with. The original recipe yields TWO two lb loaves of bread.
1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast (for one loaf of bread I used 1 1/8th tsp)
1/2 cup plus 2 cups warm water or milk
1 heaping tablespoon lard or shortening
1 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
7-8 cups all purpose flour (I used Gold Medal "Better For Bread Flour)
In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the 1/2 cup warm water.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the lard, sugar, salt and the remaining 2 cups water. Into the mixing bowl, stir the yeast, and enough of the flour to make a soft, elastic dough that doesn't stick o the sides of the bowl. Knead well with your hands.
Cover the dough with a loose piece of cheesecloth or plastic wrap and let rise till double (about 1 1/4 hours) in a warm, draft-free place, such as a table close to the stove or a sunny windowsill.
Punch the dough down, and divide it into 2 balls. Form 2 loaves with your hands. Put the loaves in greased loaf pans. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise again until double (45 to 60 minutes). Bake in a 325F oven for about 45 minutes. The bread will sound hollow when it's done. After removing the bread from the oven, brush the top with butter. This will make for a softer crust.
I took this recipe from "The Amish Cook", written by Elizabeth Coblentz
Right now my loaf is in the first rising stage. I have the timer set and it should be done in about 45 minutes. I will update later!
Well, some people are very impatient. I happened to be away at a Valentine's day performance for my middle daughter, which is why I didn't post earlier.
So, the verdict is in. The bread was very good, but VERY dense. It definitely needed to rise longer, and it definitely needs 3.5 cups flour, not 4 cups. I'm making another loaf tomorrow, so hopefully it will turn out better. Oh, and a pinch more salt is good too. It definitely tasted a bit bland.