Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Homemade Bread

Some of my kitchen endeavors include making creme brulee, panna cotta, gnocchi and homemade bread. I had some extra time this past weekend and decided to try out a bread recipe that I came across a recipe in a magazine that I've randomly been receiving (that's another story). It was for a basic white bread that didn't seem to complicated. So I looked up some other recipes to compare and it seemed like a good recipe. There is nothing like the smell of homemade bread whafting through your house and I love the sense of accomplishment making something that most people take for granted that they just pick up at the grocery store. After making the bread, I realized two things: the first is that making homemade bread is actually very easy and, second, it takes a long time. Most breads require time for the yeast to make the dough rise and it is usually two hours total combined with a baking time of about 45-50 minutes. So if you wanted to make some fresh bread to go along with tonight's dinner, then you should start your bread making by noon.

The recipe that I ultimately went with was for Ina Garten's Honey White Bread. This makes 2 loaves.

Honey White Bread

1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees)
2 packages dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1-1/2 cups warm whole milk
6 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
1-1/2 tablespoons honey
2 large egg yolks
5 to 6 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water with the sugar. Add the warm milk, butter, honey and eggs and mix. Add the flour a bit at a time but don't add too much, just until the dough stops sticking to the sides of the mixing bowl - about 8 minutes. You don't need to use a stand mixer to mix the bread. You can use your hands and knead the bread on a lightly floured surface adding flour as needed so the dough doesn't stick to your hands.

Add the dough to a buttered large bowl, cover with a damp towel and leave in a warm place for one hour to rise. The dough should rise to about twice it's size. Then turn the bread out onto a lightly floured surface again and knead for another few minutes. Divide the dough into two equal size loaves and put into loaf pans that have been greased and floured, making sure that the ends of the dough touch the ends of the pan. I find that while the dough rises it doesn't fill out to the ends of the pans. Let the loaves rise again for one hour. Towards the end of this hour is a good time to preheat your oven to 350 degrees. At the end of this rise, brush the tops with egg whites and you're ready for the oven. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped.