The day I turned into a bread baker

This past month we went and visited dear friends out on Nova Scotia. There were too many wonderful moments to write about, it was a trip about friendship and just getting time together as a family.  One of the luxuries of the trip was getting to cook with and enjoy my friend L’s incredible culinary skills.  We are the type of friends that send each other recipes we make up and the other MUST try.  We planned meal items for our trip months in advance because it is part of the joy being together, cooking and the amazing food we share.

It was pretty easy to fall in love with L’s kitchen when you get one taste of her family’s homemade bread.  Somehow this struck me as the epitome of culinary wizardry.  To be able to bake your own bread just seemed like something out of a Mar.tha Ste.wart magazine.  Naturally I was not home for two weeks when I decided I had to try this myself.

And dare I say…it was easy!

Here is a copy of the recipe she sent me.

Bread and roll mix
active yeast (labelled ‘bread machine’)
white sugar
Brown sugar

1. Using a large mixing bowl pour in 2 cups of warm water. Add 1 teaspoon* of white sugar and stir, this helps the yeast rise. Do not use hot water as it will kill the yeast. Sprinkle 1 package of yeast (found in the bread and roll mix bag) over water. Sprinkle 2 additional teaspoons of yeast over the water. Do not stir and Let yeast rise (absorb water and look mushy… 5-7 min?)

2. Add 2 1/2 cups of warm water to same bowl and 2 large heaping table spoons** of brown sugar. And one even large table spoon of salt. Mix.

3. Add half a bag of Bread and Roll mix. Stir well. Then add regular flour one cup at a time. 5 cups is a good starting point. Add until bread is a good consistency.
***knead well, and my mark is how sticky the dough is… you don’t want it to be really sticky in the middle when you’re done.**
Cover and place in a warm area and let rise for 1 – 1.5 hours or until bread had doubled in size.
4. Knead bread again. Place bread in greased bread pans
Cover and let rise again to double size.

5. When bread is risen have oven warmed oven to 350°F.

Bake pans side by side but not too close to edge of oven!
Bake for approximately 30 minutes. If you are unsure if its done pop a loaf out of the pan and look at the bottom. Tap the bottom – it should sound hollow.
Remove bread from pan immediately and let cool on rack.

First I got all my ingredients out and pulled out the largest mixing bowl I have, my Kitchen Aid mixer.  I have a dough hook for it as well but opted to do it by hand this time. It was not hard and you do not need any fancy equipment for this recipe at all.

The yeast rising in the bowl.

After mixing in the flour and sugar.  This was after the first kneading, Now it is set to rise.

Covered with a damp warm cloth and placed in the oven on Bread Proof.  Again, not necessary, any warm spot will do.

After an hour I pulled it out to find it had more than doubled in size!  Really is the small things that wind me up.

I then greased the pans and put the loaves in.  At this point, if I was to do it again I would shape them more to rise upwards.  As well, I would have left them rise for an hour and a half instead of one hour.

Back in the oven for another hour.  If I had left them closer to an hour and a half I would have gotten them even larger in rise and I think that would have been good.

Fresh out of the oven!

I have wrapped them and put four of them in the freezer.  I am not going to lie, one has nearly been eaten in 24 hours.  Despite all that I made for dinner last night, baked chicken with roasted carrots I think it was the bread that was mostly eaten.  I highly recommend having at it! Next I will be trying this with whole wheat and after that maybe buying a bigger fridge (and pants.)