Jeff and I have been focused lately on finding places in our life where we can spend our money and time in ways that provide lots of enjoyment. You know, not like going to a party enjoyment… more like learning how to tie super good knots enjoyment. Satisfaction-enjoyment.
BTW – I am the WORST knot-tier in the history of knots.
So with that in mind, we’ve been going through our current grocery bills. There’s a lot of room for satisfaction-enjoyment in that list. As in, perhaps less take-out Chinese food and cheap wine in favor of crock pots and good beer.
Ah, the satisfaction-enjoyment of knowing there are plenty projects in our future!
First up was getting back to making bread. When I was still in Minneapolis, I made bread all the time. I really enjoy it. It’s a fun process that includes action… waiting…. mixing, kneading… rising… making the loaves… waiting. Plus, it’s not only super-tasty, but I love the way bread dough smells and how cozy the kitchen is!
I managed to fit in my first two loaves last week (full disclosure, these were started at 2:30 in the morning due to a massive bout of insomnia!)
Here’s my dough just after the first kneading.
Below, I’ve shared my favorite recipe for white bread. Sigh. White bread. We all KNOW it’s so bad for us, but not only is it tasty like it’s made from the wings of (willing) angels… working with white bread dough is completely dreamy. It’s so soft and pliant and elastic. Even my wimpy whole wheat recipe (the one with plenty of white flour too) leaves me feeling like I’ve been trying to make salt water taffy after a kneading session.
Not so with white bread! This one is super simple and a bit on the sweet side. It’s tasty with butter, as a sandwich bread and makes absolutely dreamy grilled cheese sandwiches!
Amish White Bread (from allrecipes.com)
- 2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
- 2/3 cup white sugar (note: I usually use just shy of 1/2 cup)
- 1 1/2 tablespoonsactive dry yeast
- 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 6 cups bread flour
- In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm water, and then stir in yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam.
- Mix salt and oil into the yeast. Mix in flour one cup at a time. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. (I usually knead for around 10 minutes)
- Place in a well oiled bowl, and turn dough to coat. Cover with a damp cloth.
- Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
- Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half.
- Shape into loaves, and place into two well oiled 9×5 inch loaf pans.
- Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until dough has risen 1 inch above pans.
- Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes.
Now for my super special tips!!
- Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s the altitude… but I swear to all that’s holy the yeast that comes in a jar versus the stuff in the packets works better.
- Re. the above note: if the bread isn’t rising like you think it should…. give it more time. It usually will get there eventually. The times listed a re a bit skimpy. I usually give it about 2 hours in the bowl, 1 hour in the pans.
- Pans and removing the loaves. I use some non-stick business from Target (probably, can’t remember.) I oil by dumping in some vegetable oil and spreading it around with a paper towel. Bake the bread. Immediately after removing from the oven slide a butter knife around the edges and tip the pans over to release the bread. It should come right out. I clean with a dry cloth (no soap and water!) and stash away. It’s sort of like a wok. If you don’t mess with the surface, your bread will come right out….
- Final tip: under no circumstances should you, in a fit of know-it-alledness, try to prove to any smug, silver-haired men in your lives that you can mash cold butter and jam together to create a pink, sweet, smooth concoction. What you will get is laughed at and an impossible to deal with purple glob of preserves with butter balls suspended in it. It will not spread well. But you will have a decent reason to eat balls of butter, which we normally try to avoid in the interest of not being freaks.
XOXO – Patty