Bread and other such related things (pizza crust, rolls, bagels) have such simple ingredients when you make them at home. Yet when you buy them from the store there is a long list of other things. The goal for Bubbly Kitchen in 2014 is to bake all my own bread. I don’t think I will be grinding my own grains into flour with my kitchenaid anytime soon. But it seems simple enough to make bread on a weekly basis. I started this journey with the book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. This has a fabulous basic bread recipe that makes a large amount of dough that you store in the fridge. When you want to make a loaf, you pinch off a piece and bake it. The book teaches you a lot about baking bread and makes it seem more accessible. Unlike Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller which makes baking bread seem like engineering rockets, in an OCD, glamorous mad scientist sort of way. I will probably continue to keep a stash of this Artisan Bread dough in the fridge because it makes the goal of not buying bread easily achievable. But that particular recipe does not rise very tall, not tall enough for a substantial sandwich. This white bread recipe however is the perfect size for sandwiches. It is also insanely soft and full of flavor.
I have found that it is super difficult to determine if bread is done but a thermometer takes all the guessing out of it. You should take the temperature of all the bread (or anything really) that you bake and make note of it on the recipe. I also like to take the temperature of the water I am dissolving the yeast in, it should be around 110 degrees. I would love nothing more than to have Bouchon Bakery bread in my kitchen every day. Maybe with practice I will acquire the skills and patience to make bread the Thomas Keller way. But until that happens, I will be baking this white bread… over and over again. I weighed my bread loaves and calculated the total calories for the recipe. 1 ounce of bread is 85 calories. Most of my slices were a little over one ounce and were closer to 100 or 125 calories per slice. This is a bit shocking when you consider all the brands out their with the 60 calorie per slice breads. But obviously the store-brought bread is nothing compared to this recipe. Once the bread is cool it is much easier to slice thin for sandwiches. Besides just loaves of bread for sandwiches, I use this same recipe to make hamburger buns. Just roll up a small ball of dough, just a bit larger than a golf ball. Flatten this and roll out with a rolling pin, decrease your baking time to 24 minutes.
4½ tsp instant (rapid rise) yeast
3/4 cup water
3 cups warm milk (120 degrees)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp salt
3 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
10 cups all-purpose flour
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, dissolve the yeast in 3/4 cup warm water. Add in the sugar, salt, 3 cups warm milk, butter, and half the flour. Mix this on low speed until combined. Add in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time. A smooth and elastic dough should form around the dough hook. Continue to mix for 7 minutes, kneading the dough.
Lightly grease a large bowl with butter. (You may need to use two bowls here.) Cover this with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 to 1.5 hours. The dough should double in size.
Prepare two loaf pans by greasing lightly with butter. Lightly flour your work surface, punch down the dough, and turn the bowl out onto the floured surface. Divide into two equal parts. Roll each portion of dough out to 9 x 12 inches, the 9 corresponds to the length of your loaf pans. (I used a 9 x 5 inch loaf pain and a 9 x4 inch loaf pan because that is what I have but if your pan is a different size, then adjust.) Roll the dough up tightly from the short end and pinch the seam shut. Fold the ends under and place in your prepared loaf pans. Cover these with a clean kitchen towel and set aside to rise for 30 more minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush the tops of the loaves with melted butter. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, to an internal temperature of 190 degrees F.
Adapted from Annie’s Eats.