Bread Zen

Earlier this week I was feeling some stress. My most favorite stress-reliever is baking bread. Something about working with my hands, dough stuck to all of my fingers, will always bring me to my happy place. Plus, when it’s over: FRESH BREAD! IMG_0153

My go-to is this recipe, and as I am apt to do I made the loaves according to recipe the first time, and played a little the second go-around.

Julia’s White Bread

adapted from a recipe from Baking with Julia

makes 2 loaves

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 C warm water
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 7 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt
  • 2 oz unsalted butter, at room temp
  • EVOO to grease rising bowl

Instructions:

  1. Pour 1/2 C of the water into the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer. Sprinkle in the yeast & sugar, whisk to blend. Let the mixture rest for about 5 mins, until it’s nice & frothy.
    IMG_0959

    This is actually the froth with the molasses (darker color).

  2. Using a dough hook, add the remaining 2C of water, & about 3 1/2 C flour to the yeast mixture. Mix on lower speed until combined, then add 3 1/2 C more flour.
  3. Increase the mixer speed to medium, and scrape down bowl & hook as needed until the dough begins to come together.
  4. Add the salt, and knead on medium speed for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  5. When the dough is mixed, add the butter, gradually, until incorporated. If the dough, begins to come apart here, don’t fret, keep kneading the dough & it will come back together.
  6. Shape the dough into a ball & place it in an oiled bowl. Make sure it is a large enough bowl, since the dough will double in size. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 hour.
  7. Grease 2 standard-sized loaf pans, and set aside.
  8. When the dough has risen you will want to punch it down to release the air, shape it into another ball, and split that in half, shaping each into a round shape with the edges tucked underneath.
  9. Place each loaf in a pan, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 1 hour a second time. While the loaves rise, preheat the oven to 375F.  IMG_0956
  10. When the loaves have risen, bake for about 40 minutes until they are honey-brown and make a hollow sound when tapped.

Changing it up:

When I made my second round of bread, I used 1 tbsp of molasses in lieu of the sugar. It got frothy when mixed with the yeast, so I knew it was good-to-go for the bread rising. I did not find that this addition effected the flavor or color of the bread in any way. Other options to try include honey and agave nectar.

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