Making home made bread from scratch is an amazing process if you really understand what's happening. The yeasts used to make the bread rise, are living, breathing, creatures. Once they are activated, they eat the sugars and starches in the dough and convert it into carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide creates bubbles in the dough, which causes the dough to rise.
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Learning how to make bread is also easier than you might think. Give
this method a try, and you'll likely be surprised. The recipe I used
here has been handed down from my mother's family through at least four
generations, and probably more than that. It's kind of nice knowing
that I'm following a recipe that my Great-Grandmother used to use.
I find bread making - especially kneading the dough - to be a very relaxing activity, and the smell of baking bread is out of this world wonderful! This recipe makes an all purpose dough that can be used to make loaves of bread, yeast rolls, cinnamon rolls, and doughnuts.
-Heavy Crock Bowls
-Ceramic coffee cup
-A fork or spoon to stir with
-Loaf Pans or baking pans
In the pictures I used on this page for illustration, I made a quadruple (4x sized) batch. It takes the same amount of effort to make a double, triple or quadruple batch as it does to make a single batch, so I almost never make just a single.
However...all measurements noted are for a singe batch. To double or triple, just double or triple ALL measurements.
NOTE: A note from personal experience...NEVER use self rising flour for this recipe. Ironically, if you DO use self rising flour, the dough will not rise very well. Instead of loaves of fresh home made bread, you'll wind up with home made bread bricks - YUCK! I find that using the cheapest plain flour that you can buy makes the best quality bread.
In the coffee cup, put 1/4 cup lukewarm water (The ideal temperature is when you can put your finger in the water and not feel that you did it.) Put 1 tablespoon of dry active yeast in the water, stir it in lightly and sit aside for at least 5 minutes. If the water is HOT, you will kill the yeasts and your dough won't rise.
In the crockery bowl add the following:
1 cup HOT water
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cooking oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
Mix together until it's like a smooth batter. Pour in the activated yeast. You can tell it's activated when it begins to foam on the surface in the cup.
OPTIONAL - I like whole wheat bread, but bread made from whole wheat flour doesn't rise as well as that made from white flour. To avoid that, I add a cup of wheat bran at this stage. You get the appearance and nutritional benefit (fiber) of whole wheat, and the dough rises like white bread.
Continue adding flour 1/2 to 1 cup at a time, stirring between each addition. The batter will get stiffer and stiffer, and will begun to pull away from the bowl. When it becomes almost impossible to stir, the dough is ready to be kneaded. spread flour generously on a counter top, and dump the dough out of the bowl onto the counter.
Quickly wash the bowl and fill it with hot tap water & set aside. You will need it later. Using a heavy crockery bowl is important, because it helps insulate the dough from temperature changes while it is rising. Filling it with hot water, helps preheat the bowl so it will be warm when you put the dough back in.
Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. Kneading involves
smashing, folding and smashing the dough over and over again. Don't be
afraid to get physical. You won't hurt the dough and it's good
The process of kneading accomplishes two things. First you will be working additional flour into the dough which makes the dough less and less sticky. Kneading also develops the glutein in the flour that makes the bread rise better and gives it some of it's strength. There's something very relaxing about kneading bread dough. You will probably find that ten minutes passes very quickly.
When you're done kneading, pour the hot water out of the crockery
bowl, wipe it dry, and lightly oil the bottom and sides of the bowl.
Place the dough in the bowl, and turn it over so that it gets a light
coating of oil too. Cover the bowl with a light cloth.
Bread dough needs a warm (NOT HOT) place to rise. I accomplish this by turning the oven on to lowest setting for 2 - 3 minutes then turning it back off. Any warm quiet place will do. Leave the dough alone until it has doubled in volume. This usually takes around 2 hours.
After the dough has risen to double, dump it out on the counter a second time. This time however, the counter needs to be oiled not floured. Knead the dough again for at least 10 minutes.
At this point you can do a number of different things:
Form dough into loaf pans. The pans should be filled about 1/2 to 2/3 full with dough. Cover, put back in oven and let rise for about 2 hours.
When the bread dough has risen for about two hours, remove it from the oven, and preheat the oven to 350°F.
Uncover and bake for about 35 minutes. When it LOOKS nearly done (lightly browned), give it another 5 minutes, or the bread will not be cooked all the way through and will be doughy in the middle.
If you aren't sure, insert a toothpick into the center of a loaf. If it comes out clean, the bread is done, if it comes out doughy, give a few more minutes in the oven.
-Flour: 5 Lb (about 15 cups) cost $2.00 my recipe uses about 5 cups - cost:$0.66
-Sugar: 5 Lb (about 10 cups) cost $2.00 my recipe uses exactly 3/4 cup - cost:$0.15
-Oil: 1 Gal.(16 cups) cost $8.00 my recipe uses exactly 1/3 cup - cost: $0.16
-Salt: 1 tsp. may cost $0.03?
-Yeast: 1 pk. cost $0.25
-Total cost for one batch of bread dough = $1.25
One batch of dough will make 2 loaves of home made bread.
Resulting in a cost of $0.75 per loaf.
Bread from a store costs anywhere between $1.00 and $2.50 a loaf.
A bargain even if you include your time...
Fresh warm home made bread straight out of the oven and slathered with butter is one of the great simple pleasures in life. It's even better when you've made it yourself. Loaves of home made bread can be frozen after baking. When cooled, put them in a zipper seal bag, squeeze out as much air as you can without smashing the loaves, and freeze.