“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” — James Beard
In my opinion, one of the greatest pleasures in life is eating a slice of freshly-made warm buttered bread. I don’t know if it is the siren call of that perfect slice, working with the dough, or the anticipation of watching loaves rise–all I know is that I love to make and eat homemade bread. In an effort to make most of the Fuji family bread from scratch, I’ve been working on several bread recipes that I can use when I am running short on time. One is a recipe for the bread maker which you’ll be seeing here in the near future, and the other is the recipe I’m sharing with you today.
What I love about this bread is that you can be in and out of the kitchen in about an hour with two gorgeous loaves. The bread itself is soft and moist with just a bit of chew. It makes great sandwich bread (we ate our BLTs on it recently!), wonderful toast, and is just as good eaten on its own.
My FIL just spent a week visiting us, and while he was here he shot a video of me demo-ing just how easy this bread is to make (you can have the majority of the work done in the time it will take you to watch the video).
Makes 2 loaves
5 1/4 cups white bread flour
2 – 4 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 Tbsp. (rounded) saf-instant yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp. oil
2 cups warm water (somewhere between 100 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit)
1. Mix dry ingredients. Add oil and water. Mix for 1 minute and then check the consistency of the dough. The dough should be very sticky. If it is too dry, add more water.
2. Mix for 5 minutes. (Do not add any more flour after the dough has finished mixing.)
3. Spray kneading surface with cooking spray and turn dough out onto surface. Knead dough briefly until it has a smooth even consistency (this will only take several turns of the dough to accomplish).
4. Divide dough into 2 pieces (or more if you wish to have smaller loaves) and shape loaves into desired shapes and place on greased baking sheets. Cover with a large dish towel and let rise for 25 minutes.
5. While loaves are rising, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. When loaves are ready to go into the oven, use a sharp knife (you can lightly spray your knife with cooking spray to prevent dragging) to make several slashes in the top. Make each cut about 1/4-inch deep at a 30 degree angle. Bake loaves for 25 minutes, or until they are golden brown.
* Why bread flour? In short, bread flour helps make bread loftier and chewier. For a more longer explanation, read this article on the difference between bread flour and all-purpose flour.
* Why saf-instant yeast? Saf-instant yeast is a high-potency, fast-acting yeast that can be added directly to your dry ingredients without it having to be put in a starter first.
* Why slash the top of my loaves? bread101 explains, “First, for a beautiful visual appearance and second, this scoring allows the dough to expand quickly during baking so it reaches its maximum volume. It also prevents a ‘blow out’ from happening if bubbles appear under the crust and then burst.”
* Thank you to my FIL for putting together such a great video for LFM! We did this in one take without any cue cards–not bad!