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Make homemade bread every week

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By Susan Lowery

 

I make bread for myself every week, and out of the hundreds of recipes I’ve tried over the years, I find myself coming back to a couple stand-bys. Susan’s Daily Bread is my regular everyday bread recipe. I have made literally thousands of loaves of this bread, and they’re always delicious. I have variations, of course. Sometimes I will change the type of flour, add an egg, or vary the liquid used. I’ve used milk instead of water, and I frequently use potato water, the water (with no salt) potatoes were boiled in. My grandma Dillon (Momo) did this. If she was boiling potatoes for potato salad or mashed potatoes or something, she would save the cooking water in a fruit jar in the refrigerator till she made bread the next day. I do that now, and it makes for a delicious, chewy loaf of bread.
Kneading bread dough is something I actually like to do. Once you get the hang of it, it’s not difficult, and kind of fun. You can punch it, turn it over and slap it down, poke it. You can get out all your stresses and the dough won’t mind a bit. It will reward you with deliciousness!
The Daily Bread is a free-form Italian bread. You’ll notice it has no fat or oil. You can add a tablespoon or two of oil or butter to it if you want, but the only real difference will be that it keeps a little longer. I think it tastes just the same without it, and usually homemade bread doesn’t sit around too long before someone eats it.
I sometimes like to make Challah, and instead of making a traditional braid, I like to bake it in a regular bread loaf pan. This recipe makes two regular size loaves. It makes beautiful golden bread for great sandwiches of all kinds.

Susan’s Daily Bread
1 3/4 c. warm (not hot) water
1 T. yeast
1 T. sugar or honey
1 t. salt
4 c. flour (not self-rising)

Put water, yeast and sugar in large bowl. Stir to dissolve, then set aside for about 10 minutes. Add salt and flour and mix well. If it feel too sticky, add a little more flour, a tablespoon at a time, till you can knead it easily. When it is mixed well, put in greased bowl, cover and let rise till doubled in size, about two hours. Then spread dough out on lightly floured surface and press out into rectangle. Roll up, sealing at each turn, then put seam side down on baking sheet, which has been sprayed, greased or covered with silpat or parchment paper.  Cover loosely and let rise about 45-60 minutes, then bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, till golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped. Check on bread before the last ten minutes, and if it is getting too brown, cover top with foil. Makes 1 large loaf or two medium loaves.

Challah Sandwich Bread
1 c. warm (not hot) water
2 T. yeast
2 T. honey
1/4 c. margarine, melted and cooled
4 large eggs, beaten
2 t. salt
6-8 c. unbleached white flour

Dissolve yeast in water. Set aside 10 minutes. Mix together honey, margarine, eggs, salt, and about 2 cups flour in large bowl. Add yeast mixture. Gradually add remaining flour. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead fifteen minutes or so, till smooth and unsticky. (Add a little flour if needed to prevent stickiness.) Put in greased bowl and let rise till doubled in bulk.  Knead another five minutes, then divide into two pieces. Make loaves and put seam side down in greased bread pan. Cover and let rise till doubled. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Dump out loaf and check bottom. If it seems like it needs a few more minutes, just pop it back in the pan and return to the oven for a few. Makes two loaves.