Bread making is one of those really quite simple domestic tasks that can be intimidating in it's newness. But fresh baked bread isn't hard to make (especially if you have a stand mixer to do the kneading for you), is super thrifty, and can transform a simple soup into a fabulous and comforting meal.
Note: This recipe makes 4 loaves of bread. Back when I had less kids and a smaller stand mixer I would normally halve this recipe, making only 2 loaves. If you have the "classic" KitchenAid or another standard size mixer, the full recipe is a tight squeeze.
To start, measure 2 cups of milk into a bowl or large measuring cup.
Add 2 cups of boiling water, so that you now have 4 cups of a warm water/milk mixture.
Pour approximately half of the milk/water mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer. To the mixture left in the original bowl add:
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp salt
To the milk/water mixture in your stand mixer add:
- 1 1/2 Tbsp quick-rise yeast (if you don't have quick-rise yeast, go ahead and use regular yeast and double the rising times)
- a pinch of sugar (because yeast "eats" sugar, so this will help the yeast to do it's yeasty thing)
Once your yeast is puffy, pour the two mixtures together so that they are both in the standmixer bowl. Kneading with the dough hook attachment, add approximately 9 cups of flour, one cup at a time until your dough comes together, pulls away from the side of the bowl, and is slightly tacky but not super sticky.
Q: Why are the flour measurements in bread recipes approximate?
A: The amount of flour a bread recipe needs depends on things like humidity and temperature, so it won't be exactly the same every time. You have to touch and see the bread dough to know when it has enough flour. (Which is part of the reason why bread machines are evil....that and because they are giant, bulky, cabinet space stealing uni-taskers...)
(P.S. I swear this post isn't sponsored by KitchenAid. But I do love my kitchen aid mixer. Dear KitchenAid, please sponsor me, I *love* you...)
Set the dough aside in the bowl you mixed it in. Put a towel over it and let it rise for about 1 hour.
If I'm not in a hurry I will let it rise a little bit longer, if dinner time is approaching and I'm in a rush I will let it rise a few minutes less. While rising, it will double in size.
Dump your dough out on a floured surface and cut into four pieces.
Shape each piece into a loaf by stretching it into an approximate rectangle and then rolling it into a tight little log, pinching it closed.
Lay the loaves, pinched edge down, into greased loaf pans. Let rise for another hour. Again,the hour is flexible depending on how much time you have.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool slightly before slicing.
When you first pull them out of the oven the crusts will feel hard, but don't worry, they will soften as they cool.
Serve with soft butter and good soup and enjoy your new level of domesticity.
If you don't have a stand mixer: Do everything the same, except when you add the flour to your liquids you will stir it together with a wooden spoon until it gets too thick to stir, and then you will knead in the rest of the flour with your hands, pushing the dough over on itself on a floured countertop until the dough is smooth and springy and not too sticky to handle.[This is day 23 in a 31 day series celebrating all the cozy wonderful things about autumn. Click here for more fall ideas!]