Wanna conquer the world without leaving your house?
Bake fresh bread.
That’s the only way I can describe the feeling you get when you pull a freshly baked loaf of bread out of your oven. It’s the reward of careful measuring, tedious kneading and watching of the rises.
And there’s no better way to conquer the world than with butter.
I’ll be the first to admit that baking bread can be scary. As a whole, society’s confidence in the art has diminished over time, as if the invention of the bread machine somehow made our own hand-kneaded bread inferior quality. My parents owned a bread machine and growing up, I had never seen it made by hand. In fact, for awhile I really thought that you had to own the machine in order to do it yourself.
May it never be!
In light of the upcoming election, consider this a grass-roots movement to rid our houses of bread machines.
Ok, not really, but it is a simple conversion “recipe” of sorts to take an ordinary bread machine recipe and make it friendly for those of us who don’t have room in our kitchens for another gadget.
“Add ingredients to the machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer.”
This is the most common step in making bread with a machine and it’s where us traditionalists get a little stuck. Here’s the by hand version. Whether you literally use your hands, or a mixer, is up to you.
1. Combine yeast, water and sugar in a bowl. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy (like beer).
2. Add everything else (with anything cold or hot added last) and knead for 8-10 minutes.
“Choose setting for ‘dough’.”
Another common phrase. Follow steps 1 and 2 above.
“Choose setting for ‘white bread’.”
This is the most common and all-purpose rise and baking setting. First follow steps 1 and 2 above, then:
3. Cover with a dish towel and allow dough to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 ½ hours.
4. Turn out dough to a floured surface. Punch down bread to release air bubbles and separate into loaf(s).
5. Knead gently 3-6 times to redistribute yeast and shape into loaf(s).
6. Place loaf(s) in oiled pans and cover with a dish towel. Allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.
7. Bake at 350 until bottom of the loaf(s) sound hollow when tapped, 30-40 minutes.
“Choose setting for dough and first rise.”
Follow steps 1 through 3 above. Continue with directions provided in the recipe.
“Choose setting for ‘wheat bread’.”
Wheat bread traditionally needs a little bit more kneading to produce a less gritty texture. The bran in wheat also interferes with the gluten, so it takes a little longer to rise. In step 2, knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. In steps 3 and 6, watch for the size of the dough rather than the timer.
“Choose setting for fruit/seeds.”
Fruits, nuts and seeds should be added towards the end of the kneading cycle so that they are not ground into meal during the process. Simply add fruits/seeds/nuts with 1-2 minutes left in the kneading process.
That’s it! Now go hunt down all those delicious “bread machine” recipes and stick your nose up at them while you make the recipe using your bare hands. Conquer the world!