Yes, I know, I've been a terrible slacker about blogging this week. I have big news to announce tomorrow, so check back and see what's going on. =) My sister asked for a good bread recipe, so I thought I'd post it here as well. I make this all the time, and we totally love it. The basic recipe came out of a book, but I've altered it some.
1 cup warm water
2 Tbsp active dry yeast (or 2 tsp instant dry yeast)
1 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp Vitamin C powder (if you have it, if not, no worries, just leave it out).
2 beaten eggs
6-6 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
If you have instant yeast, you don't have to let it activate in warm water, but I usually do anyway. If it's not instant, put the cup of warm water in a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it. Then sprinkle the Tbsp of sugar over the bowl too. Set aside while you mix all the other wet ingredients, then add the yeast mixture, then add salt, sugar, and ginger and mix. Add the flour a cup at a time until it's the right consistency--smooth, not sticky to the touch.
Turn out onto floured counter and knead for 5 to 7 minutes. Prepare a large mixing bowl with a bit of oil along the bottom and sides, pop the dough in there and then turn it over to make sure the top is greased as well (sometimes I just pour a bit more oil on top and spread it with my pastry brush). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise until double. Usually about an hour, but it depends on how warm your kitchen is. Punch it down and let it rest while you grease and FLOUR two bread pans, then cut it in two and form into loaves. Set in pans and cover with plastic wrap for an hour or so or until double. Bake at 350 degrees. My book says 45-55 minutes, but mine rarely takes that long. Start checking it for appropriate browning about 35 minutes in. Let it cool only for a few minutes in the pans before popping it out. If you floured the pans well it should fall right out.
I like to make mine with half wheat, or a bit more instead of all white flour. When I do this I always add 1/4 cup of wheat gluten per batch to help it rise properly and it makes a big difference.
Also, if you get interrupted or know you won't have one long three-hour period free to do this, you can let the first rising happen in your fridge over a three-to four hour period (say, while you attend your kid's ball game or run to church). It will raise in the cold just fine, but at a slower pace. When you get back home, pull it out to finish rising, or if it's done, just punch it down and prepare the loaf pans.
I also like to double the batch and freeze three loaves (because it's just Bill and me), pulling them out to defrost in the fridge the night before I'll need them and they taste fine. Remember, there are no preservatives in the bread so if you leave it sitting out for several days it will mold faster than store bought. I always store mine in the fridge.
This week's stops on my blog tour (because I was just that big of a slacker!)
A fun interview by Sarah Eden for her I Need Friends Friday post