We have been on this mission to grow or make as much of our own food as possible. And bread is something we go through a lot of! During the school year I was making about 20-25 sandwiches a week. And that doesn't even include weekends! So I started making my own.
This book : (Click the picture to link to Amazon)
has the best recipe I've found for bread. We just got this book for Christmas and it is already very worn in! I use it for yogurt making tips, bread, cinnamon raisin bread, and gardening tips and Jeff uses it for building plans, gardening tips, and lots of other things... It is amazing! I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to start doing more for themselves!
Back to the bread...
I have made this bread enough times that I now have the recipe memorized! It's going to be one of those things that my kids and grandkids ask for the recipe and I'll be able to just spit it out from my old head!
1/2 C lukewarm water
2 1/4 C milk heated
3 Tbsp. butter, divided
1 Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar or honey
6 - 6 1/4 C flour
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Pour the water into a big mixing bowl. Add the yeast and stir. Let proof for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the milk and 1 Tbsp butter. Dissolve sugar/honey and salt into the milk. Let cool for a minute or two before adding it to the water and yeast mixture. Stir it into the water and yeast mixture and then start adding your flour a cup at a time. I have a big stand mixer that does the mixing for me, but if you don't have one, just use a wooden spoon and wet everything and then when it gets too tough to stir get your hands in there and work it into a nice dough. Once it is not sticky turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for about 8 - 10 minutes. You'll get the feel for it after you make it a few times. But at the end of the kneading it will feel really smooth and elastic. It should look like this:
Oil an entire bowl and the top of your dough ball and put it in the bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel.
Let it rise to double it's size.
Punch the dough down (gently, you don't have to go all Mike Tyson on it!). Turn it out onto your counter again. You can flour again, but I usually don't because it is oily enough and just the right texture that it doesn't stick to the counter. If yours seems sticky, put down a lot of flour.
Knead for a few minutes and then break it into two balls. I form one into my loaf for sandwich bread and then I keep the other ball out for a cinnamon raisin bread.
For plain bread you place it into a greased loaf pan and let it rise again until it is well over the edges of your pan. Like the one on the left in this pic... (The right is cinn/raisin bread) Before you bake it melt 1 Tbsp. butter and brush it over the top. Bake for 40 minutes. Brush the last Tbsp of butter on right after it comes out of the oven and then turn it out onto a cooling rack right away. I store my bread in bread bags that I held onto from store bought bread. ( *gag alert* I also don't wash my bread pans, unless the cinn./raisin bread makes it a mess, because they stay so nicely greased and I like to think of it as "seasoned".)
For cinnamon raisin bread, place 1 C of raisins in 1 C of hot water to soften them up a little. Let them sit. Roll out the other ball into a rectangle. It should be about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
In a bowl combine 1/2 c sugar and 2 tsp. cinnamon. Sprinkle it all over the top.
Now, take those raisins that were just soaking and drain them. Add a Tbsp. of flour to them and stir it around. They'll look nasty. They'll feel a little nasty, too.
Sprinkle them on top of the sugar mixture.
Carefully and as tightly as you can, roll up from the short side. Tuck the sides under and pinch the dough together at the seam. Place it in the greased pan.
Cover and let it rise until it doubles and then bake for 40 minutes. Turn it out of the pan, onto a cooling rack, right away.
Here are my two loaves. The right is the cinn/raisin and the left is my sandwich bread. I always make one of each because my family loves the cinn/raisin bread for breakfast or just a snack.
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1/2 C lukewarm water
2 1/4 C milk, heated
3 Tbsp butter, divided
1 Tbsp. salt
2Tbsp. sugar or honey
6-6 1/4 C flour
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pour lukewarm water into big mixing bowl. Add yeast and stir. Proof for 5 minutes. Heat milk. Add 1 Tbsp butter and melt. Dissolve sugar/honey and salt into milk. Let cool for aminute or two and then pour into water/yeast mixture. Add flour one cup at a time. Stir until you get a nice dough that is not sticky. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes. It will feel smooth and elastic at the end of the 8-10 minutes. Form it into a ball. Oil a big bowl and the top of your dough ball.
Place dough into bowl and cover and let rise in a draft free spot. After it has doubled in size, punch it down a little and then turn it out onto floured surface again. Knead for just a couple of minutes. Divide dough into two balls. Form them into loaves and place in greased pans. Cover and let rise in a draft free spot until over the egdes of the pan. Brush with 1 Tbsp butter. Bake for 40 minutes. When it comes out of the oven, brush with the last Tbsp of butter. Turn it out of pan, onto cooling rack right away.
For cinnamon raisin bread, follow directions until you form the balls into loaves. Place 1 C. raisins in a bowl, or cup, of 1 C hot water. Let soak. Roll out dough on a floured surface to a 1/4 to 1/2 inch rectangle. Combine 1/2 c. sugar and 2 tsp. cinnamon in a bowl. Sprinkle over rectangle. Drain raisins, toss them with 1 Tbsp. flour and then sprinkle them over the sugar mixture. Roll the dough from the short side as tightly as you can. Tuck the ends under and then pinch the seam. Place in a loaf pan and let rise until it is higher than the sides of the pan. Bake for 40 minutes. Turn out of pan, onto cooling rack, right away.