Carbs are my favorite. Love them. LOVE them. And is there really anything better than fresh baked bread right out of the oven? I have always been afraid of making it because of the yeast and the time commitment, but today I bit the bullet and went for it. Now I think that I might never buy it from the store again (or at least until these two loaves run out). It was so good and there was no bread maker required!
Of course, when trying anything for the first time, I feel a need to consult Joy of Cooking. That cookbook is seriously the best resource that I have come across. Even with the whole world spewing out information online, there is something so comforting about knowing that all of the answers are sitting on a shelf right in the kitchen. This bread is a great recipe that came from Joy. It was easy to follow and had great results. Plus, this recipe makes two loaves, which is awesome.
Here are the details (adapted from Joy of Cooking):
1/4 cup very warm water (about 105 degrees) 1 packet of dry active yeast 1 egg, beaten 1 1/2 cups warm water (about 85 degrees) 4 Tbsp. butter, melted 1 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 cup honey 4 cups wheat flour 4 cups all-purpose flour
Put the 1/4 cup very warm water into the bowl of a stand mixer and pour the yeast on top. Let them mingle and get to know each other for about 5 minutes. Your kitchen will smell like a bakery does early on a Saturday morning. Yum.
Next, put the bowl in the mixer and start it spinning. Add in the egg and let them combine. Slowly pour in the butter and the water. Then throw in the salt and the honey. (Side note: spray the honey measuring cup with a little bit of cooking spray. It will make your life easier).
Once all of the liquid ingredients are combined, switch over to the stand mixer bread hook and SLOWLY add the flour. Even when you do it slowly there will probably be a mess, so just embrace it. For me, there came a point at which I thought, "there is no way that this will take 4 cups of flour." But I pushed on, and it turns out that the cookbook was right. 4 cups is correct! Then let the mixer knead the bread until it is all combined, and maybe even a few minutes more. If you are feeling angry you can do the kneading yourself.
To avoid making more dishes than necessary for my loving dishwasher (Jake), I take the dough out and put it on a clean surface while I oil the stand mixer. Then I throw the dough back in, and let it do its rising right in the bowl. Just cover the bowl and put it in a warm place (like in the window where the sun is coming in). This will take about an hour, which is very convenient if an episode of Oprah is about to start.
Here's a picture of the dough and the book that inspired it:
Once the hour is over (and the size of the dough has doubled) cut it in half and form each half into a little log that will fit into a loaf pan. Let the dough rest again for about 45 minutes in the pans (be sure to oil or spray the pans!).
While they are rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the bread into the oven let the two loaves bake for about 45 minutes. Did I mention that this is a time committment? You can't just expect to whip this up after working all day. It is more of a weekend project.
When the baking is done, take the bread out of the pans and let the loaves cool on wire racks. Of course, feel free to slice the bread and eat it with a smear of butter as soon as it is cool enough to handle!