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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Simple Homemade Bread

If you have never made homemade bread, you are missing out on one of life's simplest pleasures.  It can seem daunting, but is really quite easy.  The following recipe and instructions should make your first loaves of bread an easy adventure.

Recipe: Honey Oatmeal Bread

4 1/2 teaspoons of yeast
1/2 cup hot water (between 110 and 115 degrees)
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs
1 cup oats
1 T. salt
6 cups flour

Step One
Dissolve yeast in the 1/2 cup hot water.  Allow mixture to sit for about 5 minutes.  Yeast will get sort of foamy.

Step Two
While yeast is working, mix honey, shortening and boiling water in a large bowl.  Stir ingredients so that they melt into the hot water.  Then let mixture cool to about 120 degrees.

Step Three
Add the rest of the ingredients including the yeast mixture to the honey mixture in the large bowl.  Add flour a cup at a time leaving about 1/2 cup for dusting of counter during kneading.  Toward the end of mixing, you may need to get your hands in there to incorporate all of the flour.

Step Four
Turn dough out onto floured surface.  Knead for about 8 minutes or until dough is stretchy and smooth.  Kneading is easy, and there is no real technique to it.  However, a popular mantra during kneading is push, fold, turn.

Step Five
Put dough back in bowl, cover with a towel and place somewhere warm (top of the stove is a good place) for about one hour or until dough doubles in size.

Step Six
After an hour has passed, punch dough in the center (it will deflate), then divide in half.  Roll dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick.  Roll starting at one of the ends, and tuck ends under before placing into greased bread pan.  Repeat for other half of dough.  Cover and let rise for another 45 minutes.  You'll also want to preheat the oven to 350 at some point.

Step Seven
Place pans into preheated oven, and bake for 30 minutes.  Top of bread will be crusty an hard at the completion of baking.  Allow to cool and remove from pans.  This bread freezes well if you will not be eating both loaves quickly.

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