Before you say it, I know what you are thinking. Who has time to make bread from scratch? You do, that’s who.
Making bread is as easy or complex as you want it to be, but even a home with two full time working parents can have homemade bread in less than an hour if you have the right tools. There is really no reason not to.
But it is so cheap to buy it made. Yes, that is true. But think about, for just a minute, what you are sacrificing by going store bought. The smell, the warmth, the freshness, the simplicity; need I go on? I have a whole soapbox full of rant regarding why of all the things you make from scratch, bread should be at the top of the list, but that is a soapbox for another day.
Today I want to entice you with the idea of fresh bread in your oven; on your table; dunked so delicately in your soup after being slathered in butter. A kitchen warmed by a hot oven. A simple meal enjoyed around the table. Fried eggs, crisp, salty bacon, and toast so thick and buttery it could be a meal of its own…you can’t buy that at the store.
Many will argue that bread is a complex, detailed process that require hours of your time, constant monitoring and obscure ingredients. They aren’t wrong. But they aren’t right either. A simple every day bread can be made with no more than 7 ingredients, all of which you most likely have. It can be proofed, mixed, kneaded, and rested in 20 minutes, baked in 25-30, and ready to eat almost immediately. No joke. It won’t be fancy, it won’t be labor intensive, and it won’t let out the level of aggression that hand kneading does, but it will comfort, and isn’t that ultimately what it is all about?
I haven’t bought bread in 2-years. It was one of the best decisions I have made for myself and my family. There is a reason it is a staple in our diets that has stood the test of time and it is hands down worth the effort.
50-minute Everyday Bread Dough*
2 ½ cups 50/50 bread flour**
1 teaspoon salt (I prefer sea salt)
1 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon Instant Dry Yeast
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil, or oil of your choice (olive oil will have a distinctly savory flavor making the bread slightly less versatile, but no less delicious.)
Butter for greasing
Stand mixer—if you don’t have a stand mixer, by all means do this the old fashioned way. It is great exercise, a great way to let off some steam, and I think it makes the end result a little sweeter, but, alas, most folks don’t have the time or energy. The stand mixer speeds up the process.
- Fit your stand mixer with bowl and bread hook.
- Add flour and salt to the bowl.
- In a 2 cup measuring cup combine lukewarm water (110˚-115˚ F,) honey, yeast, and oil, in that order. Let rest for 5-10 minutes, until it becomes cloudy and starts to bubble or foam. It should only take 5. If after 10 minutes it still isn’t going, your water was too hot and killed the yeast. Dump it out and start over with cooler water.
- Once the yeast is proofed, pour the whole mixture into the mixing bowl with the flour and salt.
- With the mixer on low to medium, mix for 5 minutes. I like to start on stir. After about 30 seconds up it to 4 for a minute or so until all of the flour is gathered into the dough ball. Then reduce the speed to level 2 for the remaining time.
- While your mixer is doing the work, you can prep the loaf pan. I use cast iron which makes for a lower cooking time, but any loaf pan, or cake pan—for round loaves, will do. Grease the inside of your pan well. You can use oil for this, but I prefer butter. It gives a golden hue to the bread and imparts a wonderful flavor to the crust.
- When the mixer is done remove dough ball from the ball and place it in the pan. Gently press it in to the corners so the pan is full.
- Preheat your oven to 365˚F.
- Place your pan on top of the oven covered with a tea towel while the oven preheats. This should take 10-15 minutes depending on your oven. Mine takes 10.
- Once your oven is preheated, remove tea towel, place pan in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, depending on your pan. My cast iron pan takes 26-27 minutes. Your loaf should be rounded, brown, and slightly hollow sounding when removed from the pan and tapped on the bottom. Yes this means removing the loaf from the pan to test, but if you don’t hear the knock slide it back in an bake a little longer.
This bread is wonderful fresh from the oven, however, if you are looking for clean slices for sandwiches or toast let it completely cool before slicing.
*This recipe is great for rolls, breadsticks, and pizza too. Bake rolls in muffin tins for 15-20 minutes-makes about 12 rolls. For breadsticks, roll out to desired thickness, cut into strips and bake for 25 minutes on a greased or lined baking sheet. For pizza, roll out to desired thickness and place on baking vessel. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, dress as you like, return to oven, and bake for another 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
** We use 50/50 bread flour for most of our breads. You can certainly use All-Purpose flour for a fluffier white bread or all whole wheat for a denser, heartier bread.