Making bread scares me.
It seems too... precise, maybe, to be something I could be good at.
I had a bread machine a long time ago, and even that proved to be a disappointing affair. My bread -always made from a mix, by the way - would always stick to the sides, or fall apart, or if it did turn out to be a presentable loaf, it just didn't taste like something that was worth all that effort, especially since you could buy fresh bread at Kroger for $1.
True confession: Hi! I'm mj, and before last week, I had never purchased yeast.
But I've always dreamed of being able to pull a fresh loaf of bread out of the oven to serve with soup or whatever, and last week, for the first time, I did just that. I got online, read about a million recipes, and came up with a combination of them all that suited me just fine.
WHAT YOU NEED:
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 packages active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
3 cups plus maybe a little extra all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
WHAT YOU DO:
Mix the warm water - I just used water straight out of the tap that I had allowed to run on hot for a couple minutes - sugar and yeast in a small bowl and let it set for 5 minutes or so. It get all foamy and yucky and cruddy on top. This is a good thing.
In a mixing bowl, combine the salt and flour. Gradually add in the yeast mixture, until a ball forms. I found that I needed to add a couple tablespoons of flour on top of the original 3 cups to get it to stick together properly.
Knead it for five minutes, either by hand, or if you are as fortunate as I am to have a Kitchen Aid mixer with a dough hook, use that. That's what I did, and it worked out well.
Divide it into two pieces, and form into two loaf shapes on a lightly buttered cookie sheet. I was going for a French loaf kind of look but it came out a little flat, so next time I will use a loaf pan. Cover it with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with Pam, and let it set in a warm corner of your kitchen for half an hour. It will not quite double in size.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Put a little water on a cookie sheet and put it on the bottom rack of your oven. Bake the bread for 15 minutes. After about six or seven minutes, brush the loaves with the melted butter.
This bread was dense and chewy and salty and sweet and near perfection.
I plan to serve it to my family at least once a week forever.
Your family should be so lucky.