i don’t know what has gotten into me the past few days. oh i know! my house is a mess. when you are embarrassed to let the mice exterminator into your house because of all the clutter you know you have a problem. even though i’m probably the main culprit here in this household it seemed perfectly rational to take it out on joe. poor guy came home from a late night work meet to see me waist deep in his closet throwing away shirts he wore out on dates in college. i hate to say it folks but that was 11 years ago. once he busted me we had to go through his “play t-shirts” one by one. some we were able to throw away, some he wants to wear “one last time” and others were keeps. he chose to wear one to bed last night “one last time” and it was so old (and he was a bit tinier in college/weren’t we all?) and it was pretty much a belly shirt. this morning …. it met the dumpster. we threw away an entire bag of clothes. seems wasteful i know but these were so bad i couldn’t even donate them. plus who wants a used t-shirt that says “albertross” on the back of it. yea no.
i think it’s a bit too early to call it nesting? don’t you usually do that a few weeks before baby pops out? regardless i’ve been a renegade trash collector around the house on a mission to get rid of things that have been collecting dust. in addition to decluttering i’ve been baking up a storm. my stomach is sometimes a little unsettled while cooking (even though i miss it) but baking always seems to do the trick.
i’ve been OBSESSED with baking my own bread. the satisfaction is two fold. 1.) it’s delicious and so satisfying to have your own bread with your own homemade jam you canned over the summer for breakfast. 2.) it’s satisfying because joe used to be the only one in the household who could make bread and with this recipe.. i think mines a little better. and if you are saying to yourself is EVERYTHING a competition.. the short answer is yes. but friendly competition at least.
the trick to this bread (and any bread for that matter) is the temperature of the water in which you mix the yeast. you want to activate the yeast but if the water is too hot it will kill it. if the water isn’t warm enough you won’t activate it. find that water between 105-110 is the perfect range to get that yeast bubbling. one of the best kitchen gadgets i’ve ever bought was a candy thermometer. it gives you the most accurate reading when making caramel, marshmallows and now bread. i boil a big pot and watch the temp drop on the thermometer. once it’s to the temp i need it to be, i pour out the amount i need and test it again just to be safe. i have not had bread NOT turn out while using this method.
this recipe has been adjusted a few times over the course of the internet but i really liked the way fellow food blogger dinner with julie adapted it. plus her writing is just super fun and relatable.
i made the loaves in my kitchen aide mixer using the dough hook attachment.
bread keeps about a week in the fridge.
here is what you need:
2.5 cups of water between 105-110 degrees
1 tbsp active dry yeast (if you are buying the packets, you’ll need two)
1 tbsp sugar
6 – 6.5 cups of all purpose flour. i used 6.5 the first batch and 6 the second. feel out how the dough comes together to determine this.
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, softened and cut into chunks
in the bowl of your mixer add 1/2 cup of the warm water with yeast and sugar. stir and let sit about 5 minutes. it should bubble a bit and form a cap. i think it looks a bit like a mushroom cap but make sure it reacts. if you see just milky water it didn’t work and try again. this will be the trickiest step in this entire process
start up the mixer on low with the dough hook attachment. add the rest of the water and half the flour. stir until well blended. add the rest of the flour, salt and butter. i followed julie’s suggestion and let it knead with the dough hook a full 8 minutes. it was elastic and perfect by the time it was up.
shape it into a ball and put in a bowl covered with a tea towel. i used a glass bowl so i could see it. i also got the tea towel wet with warm water and wrung it out. i think it keeps the dough moist as well as creates a bit of humidity which helps it rise. place in a warm spot in the sun (or by the wood stove) for 1.5 hours. if all went according to plan it should rise within this time.
spray or butter 2 bread loaf pans and set aside. preheat your oven to 375 degrees. divide the dough into two balls and roll each out into a 9×12 rectangle. (about the size of notebook paper)
starting with the short end fold into thirds like a letter or brochure. fold the sides under and place the bread seam side down into the pan. this will create a lovely top loaf. (my loaf, my loaf my loaf my loaf, my lovely lady loaf, check it out) (that was fergie ferg)
repeat with the second ball of dough
cover with the tea towel again and let rise in a warm place about an hour
bake 30-35 minutes until golden on top. flip out of the pan immediately and let cool.