I love to make bread. I love to eat bread, too! It's such a part of our lives, that it always surprises me when someone says that they just can't make bread. I think a lot of us get it into our head that it's some kind of science. I say that it is more of an art.
Today, I made a soft, sweet brown bread. I didn't measure much, just threw stuff in a mixing bowl. If you have ever wanted to try bread-making, I hope you'll find inspiration here.
My Crazy Take on an Amish Bread Recipe
3 cups warm water
3 T yeast (or 3 pkgs)
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 T salt
3 T flour
1 T molasses
3/4 cup vegetable oil
Start with about 3 cups of warm water. Most tap water is 120 degrees or more. You want your water to be no hotter than 115, so add a bit of cool water. It should feel good to the touch, like a nice warm bubble bath.
Pour the water into your mixing bowl and add 3 T yeast. I like to add ground flax seed as well. It's heart healthy stuff and it adds a bit of a nutty flavor. Very yummy, but optional. Leave it out if you don't have any in the cabinet.
Mix all that good stuff up in your bowl and leave it for 5 or 10 minutes. Perfect amount of time to get out the next batch of ingredients and grease your bread pans. I love to use shortening for this job. Just shortening. I know lots of people say to flour your pan, but my experience has been that the bread simply falls out of my pan with the shortening only method.
Now, on to the good stuff. Add all the rest of the ingredients except the bulk of the flour. Measuring is highly over-rated, so just come close enough and it'll be fine. I rarely measure anything and never with any accuracy.
Now, you can start adding the flour about 1/2 cup at a time. I sometimes use all white flour, but I often use quite a bit of whole wheat flour. The best advice is to introduce whole wheat slowly and add the amount of whole wheat as your tastes and experience grows.
You'll start with something that looks like this....
As you add flour a half a cup at a time, it will begin to look like this...
When it begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl, like this...
Then, it's time to switch to the dough hook.
Don't get too crazy about keeping track of the time. If you let the dough rise too much, it will climb out of the bowl and onto your kitchen counter in an attempt to take over the world... or at least your kitchen. Temperature and humidity do change the time it takes for the bread to rise.