Baking bread

The pizza dough’s done it.

It gave me confidence in sunshine, confidence alone, and me.

Mostly it gave me the confidence to try making more dough.

Bread dough.

Believe it!

Betty Crocker’s got the recipe!

Here’s what happened:

I walked to the grocery store.

It was a beautiful fall morning!

I bought 2 loaf pans. And a 12 pack of mason jars, but that’s a different story.

I almost bought 2 persimmons until I saw they cost $4 each. Then I decided against it and left the grocer’s with my pans and jars.

Back home, back to bread.

Naturally pure and wholesome. Just the way I like it.

Here’s what you need (besides wholesomeness, that is):

  • 6 cups bread or all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 2 1/4 cups warm water

Mix 3 1/2 cups of the flour, the sugar, salt, butter (cut into little chunks), and yeast  in a bowl.

Add the warm water – I just used water from the tap, not too hot, but pretty darn warm.

Mix for one minute.

Add the rest of the flour, one cup at a time, and continue mixing for about another minute.

At this stage of the game, your dough will likely look a fright, not totally combined, with chunks of flour listlessly hanging out in the bottom of the bowl.

Don’t worry. “Don’t worry” should definitely be a step in every bread recipe.

Dump your frightful dough and uncombined chunks onto a floured surface.

Start kneading. As you knead, combine the dough chunks into the bigger dough ball. Just work on it. Squish the dough, fold it over, squish it again.

Knead for about 10 minutes. Yes, 10. Don’t be wimpy. The dough will come together and feel solid and springy. Your arm muscles will feel solid and not springy.

Dough, mid knead.

Take your pleasingly combined dough, and put it in a greased bowl. You can use Pam or butter or whatever you want. I used butter. Flip your dough around so all sides get covered with grease of choice. Cover with Saran wrap.

Let your dough rise for about an hour.

Whoa! Now you have jumbo dough!

Here comes the best part!

Punch it baby!

Once you sock your dough and deflate it, turn it out onto your floured surface and separate it into 2 halves. Because I have 2 different size loaf pans, I made one half a little bigger than the other.

Roll out your dough into a rough rectangle. You can use your hands, a rolling pin, or in my case, a trusty pint glass. I always have one of those nearby!

You’re going to roll this up starting on the short side. Once you have a rolled up dough tube (ew), pinch the edge to seal the seam and fold the sides under a little. You can see photos of how to do that here – my hands were too dough-y to take pictures, sorry. Put this into a greased loaf pan, seam side down.

Once again, cover with Saran wrap and leave your loaves alone! They need to grow and recover from that punch you dealt them.

Let your loaflets rise for about 45 minutes to an hour.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and move your racks to the lower part of the oven – not the absolute bottom, necessarily, but low-ish.

What a big fat loaf! Time to bake it.

You can brush the tops with butter if you want. I wanted.

Into the oven!

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. I baked mine for 27 minutes. You can tell they’re done when they are brownish and sound hollow when you tap on the tops. Tappity tap tap, done!

Your house will smell amazing.

Out they come!

Ooooh!

Let them cool a little bit. And then slice away. Make sure you have butter handy.

Take pictures of your successful bread and brag about it on Facebook. That’s what I did.

Very satisfying.

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