Welcome to 'Attic of the Heart'!

Welcome from north-central Connecticut! In this blog I will share whatever is in my heart, on my mind, or something interesting I've found to share. Thanks for stopping by!


Friday, February 22, 2008

Homemade Bread...

There is just something so homey and satisfying about the smell of freshly baked bread. I have a loaf in my oven just about ready to come out. It smells so good! And I'm not even a bread person, really.

I have made homemade bread for probably 20 - 25 years. Shortly after I was married, my girlfriend's mom gave me her recipe for both brown and white bread. It was a 6 loaf recipe, which at that time I made by hand. There were no bread makers back then that I recall. I would bake it and then freeze all but one loaf. I usually alternated - brown one week, white the next. I still do.

Now I just use the bread recipes that came with my bread machine. They are for a 2 lb. loaf.
Here's my:

1 2/3 cup of milk
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 TB butter, softened
4 C. bread flour
1 1/2 TB sugar
2 tsps. active dry yeast.

This is my process:
First, add hot water to your bread pan to warm it while you heat the milk.
Take a 2 cup glass measuring cup and add the milk. Cut 2 TB butter into milk, and microwave mixture for 2 minutes. (If very hot, let cool slight.) (Set time back to 1 min 45 sec if you have a real hot microwave)
Remove hot water from bread pan.
Add milk and butter mix.
Measure in salt.
Add 4 cups bread flour,
then sugar,
then yeast on top.

Put pan in breadmaker and use the 'dough' setting. Mine is for about 1 1/2 hours.
At the beginning of cycle, keep an eye on the dough while mixing to make sure it is all getting mixed in. I use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides if needed. Add more flour if necessary, 1 TB at a time, letting each one mix in before adding another. Dough should be soft, but not too sticky.
(If your pan in banging around, you likely have too much flour, so add a couple tsps of warm water while in your first mixing cycle. Make sure you have enough minutes left to work in whatever you add. Worst case scenario, you can always remove the dough after the first mixing cycle is over, and knead it on your counter to make it correct.)

After the 'dough cycle' is over, grease a couple of regular bread pans with Crisco shortening. (I use one long loaf pan).
I knead the dough for a few seconds on the counter in a bit of flour and divide into two loaves. Add to bread pans, cover with dish towel and set in warm place. (I set mine on the stove. Not turned on, but it seems to work.)
After dough has doubled or so, preheat oven to 375F. Bake for 28 minutes.
You might have to adjust the time depending on how hot your stove is. A minutes either way isn't going to hurt it. The loaf should be a nice golden brown color, and should sound hollow when you tap gently on top of the loaf.
Turn out the loaf on the dish towel you used to cover it with. It should leave the pans with no difficulty if you greased them first. If it sticks alot, your loaf may not be cooked long enough. Bake for another 2 or 3 minutes. Once in awhile, mine will stick because I missed an area.
After removing from pans, I take a stick of butter from the fridge and rub the end of the butter stick over the tops of the loaves, just until shiny. This softens the crust a bit. Let cool completely before storing.
Any questions, just email me. Hope your bread turns out great!