Thursday, December 6, 2012

Making and Freezing Homemade Bread

Don't you love the smell of bread baking in the oven? I don't know many people that don't. But homemade bread takes time and let's face it, we don't have time for bread fresh from the oven for dinner every day. But today you can learn how to serve homemade bread to your family with very little notice.

When I make bread now, I make at least a double batch if not more. I don't have a large mixer (it is on my wish list) so I have to mix in stages. But on a day when I am going to be home and have time to make bread I try to "stock up".

Here is my favorite bread recipe -

2 eggs with enough water to make 1 1/3 cup
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
4 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp yeast

You can either mix this in your bread machine on the dough cycle or mix in a stand mixer. If using a stand mixer once the dough is mixed well and the dough is pulling off the sides of the mixer you will need to dump it out on the counter for kneading.

See how the dough has left the bowl almost clean? 
Add flour a little at a time until this happens.
Counter "dusted" with flour.

When you dump out the dough onto the counter you will need to "dust" the counter with flour. Start with a light dusting and then sprinkle on more if the dough gets sticky while you are kneading. You will need to continue working the dough until it has a smooth texture. You don't want it too dry and crumbly but also not too sticky.

Dough should bounce back when pressed and not be sticky.

Once you have kneaded your bread thoroughly you will place it in an oven proof bowl that is lightly greased. Place your dough in the bowl and turn once to grease the top of the dough. Let this rise now in a "warm" oven. If it is a warm day I just turn on my oven light and that is good. If it is cooler outside I will sometime set my oven as low as it will go and leave it to preheat for only about 10 minutes. You DON'T want to bake your bread! Yeast just rises better in a warm environment.

When your dough is double in size (about an hour normally) turn it out onto the counter and you are ready to shape. You can divide it into two, shape into a loaf shape and place in a loaf pan or you can roll out your dough to about 1/2 in thick and cut with a glass or a biscuit cutter to make dinner rolls.

My rolls getting ready to rise again.

Once your bread is the shape you want it set it back in the oven to rise another 45 minutes or so. Then pull your dough out and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Once it is preheated place your bread into the oven and bake until it is golden brown. For rolls this will be about 12-15 minutes and for loaves about 20-30 minutes.

After your bread has cooled to room temperature you are ready to prepare it for freezing if that is your desire. For bread, I just place it into freezer bags and freeze as is. The trick to freezing bread though comes in the thawing process. When you remove your bread from the freezer do NOT open the bag until the bread is completely thawed. If you open the bag during the defrost period your bread will be dry and hard when you get ready to serve it. Not pleasant.

Bread takes some practice to learn. But it is so rewarding. There are few things as satisfying as placing warm homemade bread on the table for your family and friends to enjoy. You make bread with your heart I truly believe. You invest time and patience into the process and you only do that for people that you love.

Written By Happily Domestic Contributor- Amanda Sikes

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