Quick, Easy Yeast Bread

A few weeks ago, my institute teacher brought several large, golden loaves of homemade bread to class as part of an object lesson.  This involved her slicing off a piece, eating it slowly in front of the class, and describing how good it was: “crispy on the outside, fluffy, soft, and chewy on the inside.  Oh, it’s so good, I just wish you could all taste it.  But, oh well….”

Fortunately, she did share after making her point, and it was just as good as she described.  She taught a great lesson and then probably spent a good 5 minutes of class time raving about how easy, versatile, fast, and foolproof this bread recipe is.  I thought she was being slightly excessive by the end, but I still signed up to get the recipe emailed to me because it tasted really good.  Then I made it.  Now I understand her enthusiasm.

Poor lighting, but warm out of the oven – you can see the butter still glistening on top of the loaf.

The dough comes together in just a few minutes with very little kneading required, and the time between pulling out my mixing bowl and pulling beautiful (or even not so beautiful, ha- this dough can take quite a bit of abuse and still taste good), freshly baked loaves of bread from the oven is under 2 hours.  It’s not the kind of bread that artisan bakers would rave about, with perfectly-developed crumb and flavor that results from patient hours of rising, but it is a very tasty, soft and chewy sandwich loaf that turns out great whether made with all-purpose or whole wheat flour.  That, to me, makes it a masterpiece.

Fun Fact: This recipe uses canola oil, which is high in monounsaturated fatty acids.  Though some label fats as “saturated” or “unsaturated,” all fats and oils contain a combination of the different types of fatty acids: saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and even very small amounts of naturally-occurring trans fatty acids (primarily in dairy).  It is believed that eating more monounsaturated fats in place of saturated and trans fats is a heart-healthy choice.  Canola oil is also higher in omega-3 fatty acids (a class of polyunsaturated fatty acids) than many other oils.

 

I took a bite and then remembered I was going to take a picture. Oops.

Easy Sandwich Bread

from Mrs. Searle

1 Tbsp. yeast

½ cup warm water (between 110-120°F)
sprinkle o’ sugar

Mix yeast with warm water, and sprinkle with sugar (the sugar is optional, but it provides nice, foamy evidence that your yeast is alive and well); set aside.

1½ tsp. salt

6 Tbsp. dehydrated potato flakes (be sure to get the kind that’s just dehydrated potato – no butter flavoring, please)

¼ cup oil

¼ cup sugar or honey

2½ cups hot tap water

5½ – 6½ cups wheat or white flour, divided (2½ cups flour + 3-4 cups additional flour – it can vary widely based on your flour and your climate)

Blend salt through hot tap water together in large bowl, then mix in the 2½ cups of flour.  After mixing well, add an additional 3 cups of flour and the proofed yeast.

Mix the bread dough with a wooden spoon, then knead in the bowl until it is smooth and not too sticky.  If needed, add more flour until it is the right consistency – be careful not to make it too stiff and dry.  Scrape the dough out onto a floured or greased surface to shape.

For sandwich bread: shape dough into two loaves, then place in greased loaf pans, and let rise until about doubled, and a finger poked gently into the dough leaves an impression that doesn’t fill back in.  Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes, checking the loaf after 20 minutes for brownness.  If the crust is browning too quickly, then place foil over the top for the remaining bake time. When finished, gently tip the loaf from the pan, shaking a little if needed, and onto a cooling rack. I like to melt cold butter over the top of the hot loaf (mmm, saturated fat).

For rolls: shape as desired, let rise, and bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.  Melt butter over the top of the hot rolls, if desired.

For scones (the best scones I’ve ever had): roll dough to about ¼-inch thickness on prepared surface, and cut (with scissors/scone cutter/cookie cutter) into scone shapes.  You don’t really need to let it rise – it will get all the rising it needs while you’re frying.  Fry in hot oil until golden brown, and top with honey butter.

This bread is also really good as normal or French toast.

Other suggestions, per my institute teacher (I haven’t tried these): use dough to make cinnamon rolls, breadsticks, pizza rolls, or cinnamon bread.

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