Make some dough to save some!

Once the economic downturn hit us on April Fool's day (by the way, it was NOT a funny joke), I started looking for any additional ways to save some dough.  I used to love to bake bread, so I decided to once again make some dough to save some.

As in most of my recipes, I turned to for inspiration.  I'm not paid to promote them in anyway, but I love their site because you can review what other people say about recipes.  One of their top 20 recipes is Amish White Bread.  I've tweaked the base recipe a bit per usual.

I use a Kitchen Aid mixer to make this.  I've had it for years, and it works wonderfully.  If you want to use another mixer, make sure it has a dough hook.  If you want to use your hands, you're shit ass crazy cause that is too much work.

Updated 5/5/12: want a whole wheat version of this?  Click here.

1) Start with a warmed mixing bowl.  I usually put a bit of hot water in there, and swirl it around.  Let sit for a few min then dump.
2) Put 2 cups of hot water (~110 degrees) in the warmed bowl and add 1/2 cup of sugar.  I use evaporated cane juice (10 lbs organic from Costco for $7!).  Stir.  Add 1.5 tblsp of active dry yeast.  Stir. It will look like this:

A packet of yeast is 2 & 1/4 tsp, but if you plan to get serious about bread baking, buy a large container of yeast to save some money.  I love Bob's Red Mill Premium refrigerated yeast.

Cover the bowl with a plate or a towel until it looks like this (this process is called proofing):

Next, add:
1.5 tsp of salt
1/4 cup of oil (I prefer olive oil to vegetable oil)
6 cups of all-purpose, wheat, or bread flour.  I've been using an all-purpose white/wheat flour mix from Costco that is fine.  Then my sis brought over some King Arthur Bread flour for our baking lesson and I was hooked!!!  Note, the recipe says to add it cup by cup.  Don't do that, it makes for lumpy and sticky dough.

Once everything is added to the bowl, turn your mixer on.  I leave it on "1" or "stir" until the sides of the bowl are pretty clean and the dough sticks to the hook like this:

Next, spray a bowl (you can use the mixer bowl if you're only make 1 batch) with cooking spray, or rub a little olive oil around the bowl.  Put dough in bowl and turn it once to coat with oil.  Cover with a warm wet towel and place in a warm place.  If you're a heat Nazi like me and your place is like the ice castle from Superman II, turn on your oven for 10 min to "warm", and then turn off.  You can safely put the bowl in there with the door closed.

This is the 1st rise, and you should let it rise until it has doubled in-size.  Timing varies, but generally it's about an hour.  Your dough should look like this after the 1st rise:

Updated 12/13/10: I forgot to add that after the 1st rise, you need to knead it again.  I throw it back in the KA mixer for about 45 seconds.  Sorry for the interuption.  Please resume your baking.
Next, grease 9x5 bread pans with cooking spray or a little butter.  Divide dough in half and place in bread pans.  It's going to look ugly when it goes in, but it will "rise" above that and eventually look pretty (har har):

Now you're in to the 2nd rise.  Let it rest in a warm place until the dough looks like a loaf of bread (technical directions here people!).  I forgot to take a photo, so just picture the above photo with fluffier dough.

Next, bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 min.  Top of the bread should be golden brown and the loaves should feel hard when tapped.
Note, the above loaves are different sizes because I have 2 9x5 and 2 9x10 pans.  I prefer my 9x5 pans.

Cool bread on wire racks and enjoy!  We're carbovores in our house, so I make a double batch every 1-2 weeks.  Triple-wrapped in foil, the bread stores beautifully in the freezer.  To defrost, simply leave it on the counter for a few hours.

This recipe is pretty forgiving and I've had fun adding spices (garlic and rosemary, etc) to it with little issues. I've even added butter, chopped apples, vanilla and cinnamon to make a sweet bread.  I'm sure you could add seeds, etc. 

If you like rolls, after the 1st rise, break off little bits of the dough and roll in to balls.  Let it rise on a baking sheet for a bit and then bake at 350 for about 22 minutes.  I like to brush melted butter on then top when they come out, and sprinkle with a bit of garlic salt.  You can also make little dough balls after the 1st rise, place on a parchment lined cookiesheet and put in the freezer.  Once frozen solid, move to a freezer bag and you'll have freezer rolls ready to go!  Defrost in the counter or fridge and bake.  Just don't leave them on the cookiesheet in the freezer for 3 days like I always do.

Bread making is time consuming in that you have to wait for things to rise, but the actual amount of time you're spending in "hands-on" work the very very minimal.  I usually wait until starting the 1st rise, and then go grocery shopping, or run a few errands.  Don't be a slave to your dough.

Overall, this is a really easy recipe, but bread making can take a bit of a learning curve.  Just try it out and see how you do.  Ugly bread is still usually delicious!

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