Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ode to a Loaf of Bread

Basic White BreadHere's another guest post that I did for Design Mom in January which I'm reposting. It's been a great trip and I've actually got a post for Friday from our adventures with the coolest ever video footage--no really! I promise! It was so fun I had to share it with y'all. Yes, now I'm southern. When in Florida, do as the Floridians . . .

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Whoever said man doesn't live by bread alone must not feel the way I do about those lovely little carbs. When I go to a restaurant and they have a bread basket at the table I'm usually filling up on crusty, soft slices of heaven before my meal ever arrives.

I'm sharing my basic, tried-and-true, absolutely fabulous bread recipe that I use in my bread machine. If you're one who swears on the old-fashioned knead-by-hand method I'm sure you can adapt this to fit your needs (kneads?) but if you love fresh bread and the ease of technology get yourself a bread machine and try this recipe--I promise you happiness.

A few notes: While I also adapt it for whole wheat, I never make 100% whole wheat because I dislike the heavy, dense texture. Instead of 4 1/2 cups of white flour you can use 2 cups of whole wheat and 2 of all-purpose with excellent results and better health. Either way is good for dinner rolls and loaves.

On the loaf you see pictured above after letting it rise for 30 minutes I sprayed the loaf with olive oil cooking spray, sprinkled sea salt and rosemary on top, then made light, cross cuts on the top with a serrated edge before baking--pretty, no?

Here's the recipe:

1 1/2 cup warm water
4 1/2 cups white all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons powdered milk
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon fast acting yeast (though this may need to be reduced if your machine has a very long rising time.)

Add all of the ingredients into the bucket of the bread machine and set on the dough cycle. When finished, shape as you wish on a greased cookie sheet and allow the bread to rise for 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 28 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Cuisinart Bread MachineAll machines are not alike so you may have to tweak it to make it fit your particular machine. Just remember that less is more when it comes to the amount of flour. You want to add as little flour as you can otherwise the texture becomes too dense.

I've had four bread machines and I've worn each of them into the ground so I had to show off my latest model. A friend of mine had a brand new Cuisinart bread machine she didn't want so she gave it to me just as my fourth machine was on its deathbed.

If you're in the market for a bread machine you should consider a couple criteria:

1. How large a loaf can it handle? (A two pound loaf is a must for me)
2. How deep is the bucket? (A deeper bucket v. a wider bucket will mean less sloppiness and a cleaner machine)
3. How long does it take to complete a cycle? Four hours? Two? Something in the middle is best.
4. Does it have enough settings? (Can it handle whole wheat? French? Dough?)
5. Does it have a window? You'll want to see your art baking.
6. Remember that more expensive doesn't mean better, I've tried high end and low end machines and the low end models outperformed the more expensive machines every time.

Happiness is a warm loaf of bread so if you want some of my other favorite bread recipes here click on these:

* Cranberry Bread
* Perfect Cinnamon Rolls
* Smoke Gouda Rolls
* Sticky Rolls
* Baked Apple Donuts
* Pesto Cheese Pizza

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13 comments:

smallnotebook said...

Thanks so much for sharing your bread recipe with us. I'm glad to hear that you've tried several and found great results with the lesser-priced bread machines. My $30 Sunbeam bread machine gets a workout and I couldn't be more pleased with it. It's encouraging news when a lower-priced item is still a good value.

The Source said...

Mmmmm. That looks delicious. I may actually have to dust off the bread machine and try it!

Heather said...

MMMM I am totally making that bread this afternoon (YUMMO)

But - the Man does not live on bread alone? Yeah - that would be the Bible. "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from te Lord" I comfort myself with the thought that the Isralites didn't have the great breads we did!

Kristine said...

Great recipe! I was worried when I didn't have quite the full amount of yeast (maybe only 2/3 T). But it rose well, turn out beautiful and tasted even better! MMMMmmm!

Daisy said...

Funny, my breadmaker is squeaking and mixing behind me right now. I'm on my third, all toastmaster brand, and I might try a Sunbeam or Cuisinart next time. This one is okay for 1 1/2 lb. loves, but I'd like to have the option of going bigger.

SeaBird said...

Hello Michelle... I have a question for you - in this recipe you don't allow the bread to cook in the machine - you take it out and cook it in the oven - has that produced better results for you?

My bread machine only makes super-dense breads no matter how I tweak the recipe, but maybe I should try cooking it in the oven...?

Also, I've had luck with using Whole Wheat Pastry Flour as a whole or partial substitute for Whole Wheat Flour, too.

Shannon said...

We had to leave our bread machine back home when we moved out West. It was one of the things that didn't fit into the moving van ) : One of our family favorites was Hawaiian Sweet Bread. It was a box mix, but boy was it ever delicious! If I get a new bread machine soon, I'll try out you tried and true recipe.

Scribbit said...

Sea Bird, you asked about the dense loaves? Try cooking it in the oven and see if a longer rising time doesn't help. However, I'd really try tweaking the recipe more if you can (unless you've done all these already and don't hate me for mentioning what you may have already tried) but try more yeast for a greater lift (and is your yeast good? If it's old or bad it won't work properly). Also, try less flour, a lot less and see how that works. You might try sweet breads too and see if that helps, more sugar means more food for the yeast and a greater rise.

Good luck!

Annie said...

Yum, Yum, Yummy! All of these recipes are now in my "must try" file. Can't wait!

luckyzmom said...

The bread machine is my husbands and he always does the baking. But, I am going to surprise him by making this bread, because I have confidence in you that it will be great. Thanks.

s@bd said...

just going to run along and make that right now ...

(no. seriously.)

Mom24 said...

I made two loves of this today. Delicious! You should repost this. Thank you. It's the first time I've truly liked my bread machine.

Flea said...

How cool is that? I googled whole wheat bread machine recipe and this post is on the bottom of the first search page! I'm actually going to go back and look at your other recipes. Thanks!