I bake bread about once every three weeks or so and I thought you might like to see the recipe that I use. It’s an older recipe that I’ve modified a little and lends itself to different flour alterations and combinations.
I like this recipe because it makes 6 good size loaves and keeps me out of the kitchen for longer periods of time.
• 2 cups of milk
• ¾ cup of sugar
• 8 teaspoons of salt
• 1 ½ sticks of butter
• 6 cups warm water (105° – 115 ° F.)
• 4 tablespoons loose yeast or 4 pkgs. active dry yeast
• 24 cups unsifted flour (more or less depending on the weather conditions)* See below for flour alterations and combinations
PREPARE THE LIQUIDS
Heat the milk, sugar, salt and butter in a large sauce pan until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Cool to lukewarm.
Measure the warm water in to a very large bowl. Sprinkle in yeast & stir well until dissolved.
MIX IN THE FLOUR
Add the lukewarm milk mixture and 12 cups of flour to the soften yeast water.
Beat the mixture until smooth. Add enough of the additional flour (you’ll stay safe if you add 10 -11 cups of flour and then add more if needed – 23- 24 cups of flour in total ) to make stiff dough. It’s better that the dough be too sticky at first rather than too stiff. You can always knead in more flour if you must.
KNEAD THE DOUGH
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured board, canvas or counter top and knead well until smooth and elastic. It usually takes about 10 minutes.
LET THE DOUGH RISE
Place the kneaded dough into a well greased bowl and turn it once in the bowel to grease the top. Cover the dough and allow it to rise in a warm place free from a drafts until it has doubled in bulk – usually about 1 hour in a warm room.
After the dough has risen, punch it down and let it rest for 15 minutes.
SHAPE THE LOAVES & LET THE DOUGH RISE AGAIN IN THE BREAD PANS
After it has rested divide the dough in to 6 equal pieces. Now shape the loaves.
To shape the loaves roll each piece out into about a 14 X 9 inch rectangle using a lightly floured rolling pin.Use a gentle but firm pressure on the rolling pin to get all of the air bubbles out of the dough.
Beginning with the upper short side of the rectangle, roll the dough towards or away from you (which ever you prefer) and seal the dough with your thumbs or fingers. You want to seal the side ends of the dough and fold sealed the ends under.
Next place loaves into 6 well greased loaf pans and pat the dough down firmly into the pans. Cover the pans with a clean cloth and allow them to rise again in a warm place, free from drafts until doubled in bulk – about 1 to 1 ½ hours (my house is very cool).
Please note that these rising times are approximate. In the winter time my house is usually about 60F degrees and your house may be much warmer. The best tasting bread comes from loaves that take a longer time to rise in a cool location.
Bread that rises too fast or too long in a warm location will have a very yeasty taste that most people do not like.
BAKE THE LOAVES
When the loaves have double in bulk bake them at 400° F for about 30 minutes or until done.
You can test for “doneness” by two ways:
- Tap the loaf and it should sound hollow. If it sounds hollow it’s done
- Also you can slip the loaf out of the pan and look at the bottom. It should be golden brown – not white or pasty looking.
If the bread loaves/loaf needs more time just put it back into the pan and return to the oven until it is finished baking.
When the loaves are done baking remove them from the pans and allow them to cool on a wire rack.
The above recipe is my basic bread recipe. I alter it to suit my needs and will combine different types of flours.
I don’t usually combine more than a 50/50 mix of fresh hand ground whole wheat berries and any other kind of flour. I think it makes the bread too heavy. A 50/50 mix of all purpose four and a good bread or high gluten flour makes a very nice white bread loaf. A nice loaf is also made with 50% white flour, 25% whole wheat flour and 25% rye flour.
My favorite whole wheat is 25% hand ground wheat berries, 25% high gluten flour and 50% all purpose flour. This recipe is very forgiving. Have fun with this recipe and experiment with different flour combinations and make it your own.
I use either fresh or canned milk. Canned milk is usually cheaper than fresh fluid milk (unless I’m milking a goat or cow) and I always have it on the pantry shelf. I reconstitute canned milk for this recipe at a ratio of 50% milk to 50% water.