Really, you can do this. For the past 8 years or so, I’ve been making bread here and there, but never regularly. I would go months without making fresh bread, make a loaf, and then wonder why I waited so long to make it again. Being here in Germany, we are blessed with an abundance of bakeries. Two problems with that. You can never just go in and buy bread, there are other treats always staring at you and luring you into their grasp. Second, each loaf of bread costs at least 2 euro, that’s about $2.50 US dollars. I have a big goal of saving money on what I can, so that we can use the extra for travel.
Another problem, the commissary bread – yuck. You see, they have a TON of American food at the commissary, to include bread. How can they do this, you ask? Wouldn’t it go bad before they get it here? Not only does bread have a lot of preservatives in it, they freeze it so that it will make the trip over the Atlantic. Have you ever eaten thawed bread? If you haven’t, save yourself the misery. It will turn you into a carb hater, for sure. It’s gross. So, I refuse to buy bread at the commissary.
This recipe is the one that I’ve been using for 8 years, so I can’t even really remember where I got it. It’s posted in a word document in my computer that I must have gotten from someone. I don’t know. It’s plain white bread, so don’t be alarmed when you don’t see any whole wheat flour in this. For commercially produced bread, I don’t ever buy white bread, but when I make it, I can control the type of flour that I use and I like King Arthur flour. If you can find white whole wheat, get it, it will work the best. Their all-purpose is unbleached and that works beautifully. You’ve got organic at your store, even better, use it.
Baking bread with traditional whole wheat flour is tough and it makes a heavy loaf. I’m still trying out recipes for this one. When I hit it, I’ll share.
So, here it is. I’m going to post my basic recipe, but in the pictures, I added dill and red onion to the bread to add some flavor. I only suggest doing this if you plan on having a massive cardio workout either before or after, because you might find yourself hiding in a corner eating warm bread, a lot of it.
Always start with the dry ingredients. You can do this in a stand mixer or mix by hand, it doesn’t matter.
Below is the wet ingredients that have just been added to the dry ingredients. It’s definitely more wet than dry, time to add more flour.
When the dough starts to pull away from the side of the bowl, then it’s time to start kneading. You will continue to add more flour as you knead, that’s okay.
After about 7 minutes of kneading, your dough will look like this. It’s still tacky, but not sticky to the touch. I put mine back in the bowl, cover with a towel, and find the warmest spot in the house to rise. My furnace room is our warmest spot, but I’ve also set mine on a table that is getting direct sunlight and that works well too. The first rise takes about 45 minutes.
It’s going to double in size and that’s when you know that it’s good and ready. At this point, you punch it down. You literally take your fist and punch it, just once. This is not for very angry times. Then you divide it in half. I just tear it apart and put it into two loaf pans.
It looks so small again. Never fear, it will rise again! Once more, towel on top and back to it’s warm and comfy spot for another 30 minutes or so (depending on how warm it is).
There we have it. The second rise is done. 375 degrees F for 40-45 minutes and you will have perfection.
See? Perfection. What I love about this recipe is that I can add a bunch of different things to change it up. Herbs, dried fruits, chocolate chips, etc. The possibilities are so great.
- 5 to 6 cups all purpose or white whole wheat flour
- 3 Tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 pkg. active dry yeast
- 2 cups water, very warm, but not boiling
- ¼ cup canola oil
- In large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Blend well.
- Add warm water and oil to flour mixture.
- Blend until moistened.
- Stir in 2½ to 3 cups flour until dough pulls cleanly away from side of bowl.
- Knead 10 minutes, adding a little flour at a time until the dough is no longer very sticky, but tacky.
- Put in bowl to rise and cover with towel.
- Let rise until double, then punch down.
- Shape into loaves and place in 2 greased pans.
- Let rise in warm place 30-45 minutes or until it has risen about 1 inch above pans
- Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow
Update: Sometimes you just need a roll instead of a loaf of bread. This recipe make a 9×13 pan of LARGE rolls. You could easily make these into smaller rolls, your choice. I make the recipe exactly the same, but on the second rise, I divide them into rolls.
And this is after baking. I changed the baking time to 25-35 minutes, depending on the size of your rolls.