bread baking (no machine required?)

Okay, so basically I was under the impression that you needed some fancy contraption to bake proper loaves of bread. Boy, have I been set straight! On my last trip to AMFM I stopped by the Baker Dudes North Shore stand and asked baker/proprieter Mike, if I needed a machine to bake luscious loaves of homemade bread. What followed was such a schooling that I immediately felt like a complete donkey for asking. He explained to me that there is little you actually NEED to make bread. Keep it simple- flour, water and yeast. Mixed by hand, left to rise, a few good cracks and pop it in the oven. Like Jaime Netzer from Mother Earth News proclaims- “The process of baking bread is like an homage to our past: One of our oldest foods is also one of the most satisfying to create from scratch”.

Sounds fun right? I used this recipe from The Joy of Cooking, omitting one cup of the white flour for one cup of Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat flour.

This is a quick and easy yeast bread designed to work with quick-rise yeast, regular active dry yeast works too. Stir together in a large bowl:

2 cups bread flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1 package (2? teaspoons) quick-rise or active dry yeast
1? tsp. salt

Add:
1 cup very warm (115 to 125 degrees) water
2 tbsp. butter or margarine, melted or softened

Mix by hand or on low speed for 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup at a time until the dough is moist but not sticky:
1 to 1/4 cups bread flour

Knead for about 10 minutes by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn it over to coat with oil.

Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place (75 to 85 degrees) until doubled in bulk, 40 to 45 minutes. Grease a 9-by-5 inch loaf pan. Punch down the dough, form it into a loaf, and place seam side down in the pan. Oil the surface and cover loosely with a clean cloth. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 20 to 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Bake the loaf for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake about 30 minutes more. Bake until the crust is golden brown. Remove the loaf from the pan to a rack and let cool completely.

Yields: One 9-by-5-inch loaf

P.S. When it came out of the oven we poured garlic butter over it and had it with spaghetti before I could take a picture! It was delicious!

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