I have tried making bread for years, on and off. I finally found and tweaked a bread recipe that works for us, so I’m going to share it with you without all the background of what did not work for us. With making bread, as with most things, the best advice is if at first you do not succeed, try, try again.
I make my bread in a breadmaker on the dough cycle, then in the oven. If you do not have a breadmaker, first mix the ingredients in a mixer and then knead with a mixer dough hook or by hand. I have never like kneading by hand, but some find it quite therapeutic. Personally, I have so many things on my to do list, that if an appliance can shave some hands-on time off for me, I’ll take it!
First, I add the ingredients to the breadmaker, “wet” ingredients first, then “dry” ingredients, then the yeast. If you are new to using a breadmaker, this order is important. The breadmaker will mix, knead and go through the first rise, then I shape the loaf, allow to rise and bake in my oven. Of course you can do the whole process in a breadmaker on the basic/white loaf setting, but I prefer an oven crust to the thicker one from a breadmaker. If you are using a mixer, I usually mix the dry ingredients, including the yeast, together and then add the warm “wet” ingredients all at once and mix, then proceed to knead for 5-6 minutes using a dough hook, depending on the dough, until slightly sticky and smooth. Let rise in covered bowl until doubled, about 45 minutes. The rest of the recipe is the same:
1 cup warm water (about 100-110 degrees F, not more than 115 degrees F)
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp milled flax seed (optional, adds moisture and Omega 3’s)
3 cups of flour (white or white/whole wheat combination, I usually do 1c wheat/2c white)
2 Tbsp vital wheat gluten (optional, but highly recommended) or 2 tsp if using bread flour instead of all purpose flour
2 tsp yeast
After dough has completed first rise, punch down and roll out in a rectangle the width of your bread pan. Roll up jelly-roll style starting at a short end, pinch seam and tuck ends under, and place in lightly buttered bread pan, seam down. Let rise 30 minutes. I turn my oven to 350 degrees for 1 min to warm it, then turn it off and put the pan in there to rise. If you do this, do not forget to remove the pan to preheat the oven! Preheat oven, bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool about 10-15 minutes, remove from pan, cool completely and slice with a serrated blade. Keep in an air-tight container and enjoy within a few days.