|Quick Yeast Bread Recipe|
As a baker, I rate myself as somewhere between novice and intermediate. I’ve done a bit of baking in my life and I’ve even come up with my own preferred recipes for some baked goods, but mostly, I purchase already prepared baked goods. I’ve never baked as often as I have these last two weeks.
Why Make My Own Bread?
My first year participating in October Unprocessed (2012 is my second year participating), I wondered if I could go all unprocessed without changing my diet much and without increasing the grocery bill. Especially without increasing the grocery bill. I was quite pleased to find out that I could do both on an unprocessed diet.
However, while some things were cheaper, some things were more expensive. Bread was one of the things that cost more when I limited myself to unprocessed items. Bread without the processed ingredients tends to be made in smaller bakeries and cost a little more. Not a whole lot more, but staying within a budget is important and a few dollars a week can add up.
And that’s the story of why I decided to bake my own bread for a month. Once I made the decision, I started second-guessing myself. Could I do it?
Getting the Timing Right
The first problem I came across was my timing. I kept getting up to fix dinner and realizing that I should have started the bread long before. The first time I did that, I just made some pasta to go with the meal. The second time, I made tortillas. The third time, I knew I needed something quick or we would be eating pasta or tortillas every night.
Flipping through my recipes, I found a quick yeast bread recipe that I used in college. It’s a basic white bread that takes about an hour to prepare, start to finish. The crust is fairly soft, though not as soft as the bread in the grocery store. It will last several days before going stale.
Quick Yeast Bread
1 cup water
Step 1: Proofing the Yeast
If you have confidence that your yeast is alive and healthy, feel free to skip this step and skip the sugar, if you want. If you’re like me, and you found two mostly used jars of yeast that have been in the back of your fridge for who knows how long and want to see if they can still make bread, proof the yeast.
Mix all the yeast and one tablespoon sugar into ½ cup of the water. The water needs to be warm, but not hot to the touch. Let it sit for five minutes. It should get foamy and roughly double in size. If it doesn’t, you’ll need different yeast.
Step 2: Mix the Dough
Start with two cups of flour in a medium bowl. Add the sugar, if you’re using it, and the salt. Mix them together just to distribute the sugar and salt through the flour. Add all the water and the yeast and stir. You can use a fork or spoon at this point, or just your hands. The dough is very sticky at first.
The dough will quickly come together and be more of a ball. If it’s still sticky, add a little flour, but only enough to keep the dough from sticking to you or the bowl. Knead it.
To knead, push the heel of your hand into the center of the dough ball. Fold the dough in half, turn the dough a bit (one-eighth or one-quarter of a turn), and push the heel of your hand into the dough again. Repeat that until the dough becomes smooth and springs back into a ball when you push on it.
When the dough feels sticky, add a little more flour. Depending on the humidity in my kitchen, I use between 2 ¼ cups and 2 ¾ cups of flour.
Step two takes about fifteen minutes.
Step Three: Let the Dough Rise
Shape the dough into four or eight rolls. Four rolls will make bun-sized rolls. Eight rolls will be about the right size for a dinner roll.
Cover the dough with a lint-free cloth or kitchen towel for twenty minutes or however long it takes for the dough to roughly double in size.
Once it doubles, handle it carefully. You don’t want to squeeze all the air out of it. This dough doesn’t get a second rising.
Step Four: Cook
Set your oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Pop the bread into the oven while it’s heating up and bake for about twenty minutes, or until the tops of the rolls are lightly golden brown.
Let them cool in the pan for about five minutes before serving.
Source: GO MEDIA: Written by Heather Carr - Flour and wheat image via Shutterstock