Baking bread from scratch is one of the most basic skills for anyone who wants to develop self-sufficiency and create a perpetual homestead can learn.
I remember when I was a kid going to Dad’s cousin,s house. She worked out of her home before it was cool and baked bread and rolls for a locally owned store. I always liked to go to her house because it always had the wonderful smells of fresh, baked bread and any time I had a meal at her house, we always had some of that wonderful homemade bread. Sometimes I was there when she was making it and I learned a few of her breadmaking.
As an adult, I have learned that I am able to duplicate her breadmaking process and I am sharing some of what I know now.
Basic White Bread
Into a large preferable glass bowl (glass holds heat better than plastic or metal) put 2 ½ cups lukewarm water and sprinkle in two tablespoons of powdered yeast. Dissolve the yeast in the water.
Once dissolved, add a quarter cup of sugar. Let bowl of mixture set until yeast begins to bubble in the water mixture. Once the bubbling begins to occur, add ¼ cup of vegetable oil, one egg, and 1 ½ teaspoons of salt to the mixture. If the bubbling doesn’t occur, you’ll want to throw out the contents of the bowl and the yeast and get a new batch of it.
Next mix in 8 cups of white all-purpose or unbleached flour. The last of the flour you will probably have to mix in on the counter or a board. Add more or less flour depending on the consistency of the ball of dough.
Once you have the ball of dough at the right consistency and sitting on the counter or board, wash out the bowl and add a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil to the bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Coat the dough with the oil and cover with a towel. Put the bowl of dough into a warm location to rise.
Once the dough is doubled, punch down and form the dough into two loaves. Place loaves of dough into two greased 9×4 ½ inch bread pans, brush vegetable oil on the top of the loaves and allow to rise until doubled. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Without punching down, place loaves into oven. Bake at temperature of fifteen minutes then lower temperature to 350 degrees and bake until bread sounds hollow when tapped on the top. Remove from pan and tap on bottom. If the bread still sounds hollow, the bread is done.
Remove the bread from the pans and brush bread with melted butter to make soft bread crusts. Allow to cool before serving the bread.
Other Types of Bread
You can adapt this bread recipe for other types of bread easily.
For a crispier crust, don’t brush on the butter after baking.
For French bread, make an elongated loaf and sprinkle with seeds or herbs if desired.
For rolls, shape into rolls and place on a cookie sheet.
Whole Wheat Bread
Substitute 4 cups of whole wheat with 4 of the cups of all-purpose or unbleached flour
Substitute 4 cups of rye flour with 4 cups of the all-purpose or unbleached flour
Substitute 2 cups of mashed potatoes or dried mashed potatoes for two of the cups of all-purpose or unbleached flour can use in other types of bread as well to reduce over-all all-purpose flour needed.
Sweet rolls or Loaves of Cinnamon Bread
Roll out the dough and spread softened butter onto the dough.
Sprinkle cinnamon over the butter then sprinkle a generous amount of brown sugar over that and then another layer of cinnamon over the brown sugar. Add another generous amount of softened butter on top of that. Roll the dough as tightly as possible. Cut the dough into rolls or just into loaves. Allow the bread to rise and bake.
Tips for Successful Bread Making
- Store yeast in the freezer to keep it fresh.
- Make sure that the liquid (water) that you use is lukewarm, not hot, and not cold as this can prevent the bread from rising.
- In cold temperatures, prewarm the bowl that you’re using for rising the bread.
- If your yeast doesn’t bubble after sugar is added, don’t add the rest of the ingredients. If your water was warm enough, discard the water mixture and get different yeast.
- Work your dough until it is elastic and not too dry and not too wet to work. If it still sticky and sticking to the working surface, add a little more flour.
- If you want a softer crust, brush with butter. If you want a crispier crust, don’t brush with butter.
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