Life these days is so fast and loud, its nice to slow down sometimes. I have always been intrigued by the “old ways” of doing things, and I absolutely resonate with the recent uptick in homesteading trends. However living in a city makes it hard to live out your fantasies of a log cabin on a prairie. One thing I can do is listen to some old folk music while kneading some dough and pretend I’m Laura Ingalls for awhile.
This bread is fluffy and a little sweet, and holds up great for sandwiches and toast. This isn’t healthy wheat bread, or the beautiful sourdough you dream of making someday (I know I do). This is the bread of winter wood stoves, warm grandma hugs and a lazy summer afternoon. If you have never made bread before, don’t worry! This recipe is fairly simple and its pretty hard to mess it up. Even if you do make it and the top falls off, you accidentally leave it in the oven a little long, it will still be delicious and edible.
I prefer to use my hands when kneading the dough, however a mixer can certainly be used, but you’ll have to trust your instincts about the feel of the dough. Therefore, I encourage you to try it by hand because once you get it, you’ll find it incredibly rewarding. I personally love the feeling of doing something people have done for hundreds of years, the good ole’ fashioned way. Plus, its really fun to punch the dough..just saying.
What you'll need
- 4 and 1/2 tsp dry active yeast
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 and 2/3 cup warm water
- 5 cups bread flour
- 3-5 cups all purpose flour
- 2-3 Non stick 9” Bread Pans (I love my cast iron, or my clear pans)
1. Pour tsp of sugar into a large bowl with 3/4 cup of very warm water. Add the yeast and wait until it is foamy and bubbling.
2. Add the remaining sugar, salt, butter, honey and 2 cups of warm water and mix.
3. Slowly add 5 cups of bread flour and mix together with a strong wooden spoon. When the flour is all mixed together with the wet ingredients, slowly add the remaining 3/4 cup of water and 2 cups of all purpose flour. (I usually end up at about 7 1/2 cups total, sometimes more, just depends on the how the dough feels)
* Note- you want the dough to be smooth and slightly sticky. If you place your hand on it and it comes off covered in dough, add more flour. Be careful not to add to much, just add slowly and you’ll be fine. We will be adding some of the remaining flour during the kneading process, so if your dough is still sticking to your hand a bit after adding flour a second time, then just leave it and add more as you knead the dough.
4. Sprinkle dough onto the counter to create a lightly floured surface and turn out your sticky dough ball on to the counter. Knead for about ten minutes, adding sprinkles of flour as needed.
* Note- You want to have the dough “bounce back” if you poke your finger in it, and also have it slightly sticky, but not so sticky that it sticks to your hands.
5. Lightly grease a large bowl with olive oil (you can use the same one you used earlier just rinse it and dry it off first) place your sticky dough ball into the greased bowl and turn it around to coat with oil. Cover and let it rest in a warm place for an hour, or until doubled in size.
* Note- The dough will rise slowly if your home is cold, this is ok, the rising helps the bread to develop its fluff and flavor, the longer it rises the more flavor. If you don’t want to wait for the bread to rise in the cold, you’ll need a warm spot. Consider placing the bread near your fireplace, a heating vent, or a warm sunny spot. If your home is hot, find a cooler darker place to let it rise. Eventually you will learn the best place depending on your home.
6. When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down. This is my kids favorite step, you literally just punch it!
7. Lightly flour your surface and dump the dough out. Divide the dough into two or three sections and flatten each into a rectangle. Its alright if you don’t end up with a perfect rectangle, you do however want it to be the same thickness all around. (For a bigger taller loaf I use 2 bread pans, for slightly shorter loaves I use three)
8. Roll each rectangle up into a cylinder, and place into a lightly greased bread pan with the seam side down. Repeat for all three pieces.
9. Preheat oven to 425* – When the dough has risen for the second time, cover in foil and bake for 15-20 minutes.
10. Remove foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes. Check the loaves after 15 minutes, you should tap the tops and hear a hollow sound and have a toothpick come out clean.
11. Remove from oven and allow to cool before slicing. Feel free to brush the tops with butter, or leave it plain.
Tips ~ This Bread freezes very well, make sure to slice before freezing. This way you can pull out a few for toast or bread as needed.
If you can’t wait to slice it until its cooled, just pick one of the loaves and hack the end off, slather on some butter and a dollop of honey and just try not to have more than one piece. I dare you…
Makes 2 loaves of bread
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Author: Chelsea Crosby