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.
All 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
Technorati tags: bread, baking, bread machines, rosemary