Basic White Bread (found somewhere, somehow on the internet at some point)
5 ½ c. bread flour
1 T salt
2 ½ t. rapid rise yeast (somehow I always use 1 T.)
2 c. very warm water
1 T olive oil
2 T honey
Place dry ingredients in mixer (I use my kitchen aid with the dough hook which works great). In a glass measuring cup, first add the very warm water, then olive oil, then honey (if you measure the oil first, it keeps the honey from sticking to the tablespoon) – stir together so the honey dissolves (5-10 seconds). Turn on the mixer for 15 seconds (to mix the dry ingredients), then add the liquids all at once at mix at setting 1 for 1.5 minutes. Turn off mixer and let it rest for 10 minutes. Mix on level 2 for 3 minutes. Knead 3-4 times (I never do this). Place in an oiled bowl in a warm place, covered, for an hour to rise. Punch down, knead 3-4 times, shape into loaves, rolls, etc. Let rise 45 minutes covered. Bake at 375 degrees F for 30-35 minutes for loaves, 20ish minutes for rolls.
Things I’ve tried and like:
— I always brush the baked loaves or rolls with olive oil to keep the crust softer. Yum.
— Cinnamon / Craisin Bread: Add 1 T (ish) cinnamon and 1 cup (ish) of craisins to the dry ingredients before mixing all together. Sometimes I also add an extra tablespoon of honey to make it a touch sweeter (and sometimes I don’t). This is great as rolls or bread. The rolls are super easy to grab for breakfast on your way out the door in the morning. (you can do this with just cinnamon and skip the craisins too).
— Do above, but before the second rise, roll dough into two large rectangles, brush water (or milk) onto the surface, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, roll into a loaf, pinch the ends together, and then let rise before baking. Yummy.
— Whole wheat: Use 3 cups white flour, 2 c. wheat flour (you need about ½ c. less flour when you use wheat flour – or I add a bit more water).
— Garlic Herb: Add 2 T. (to taste) garlic powder and 2 T. (to taste) basil (and any other herbs that inspire you) to dry ingredients before mixing. This is probably the one I do the most, it is very tasty as bread, rolls, homemade croutons, everything! Love it.
— I’ve also substituted sugar for the honey in the recipe when I didn’t have honey.
Things that don’t work:
-Forgetting to add the salt (though I was able to mix it in even after the rest of the dough was mixed and it worked out fine).
-Using really old yeast- makes for very flat, hard bread (not bad for bread pudding though).
-setting a loaf of this bread on the kitchen bar stool for a minute to clear off counter space and then forgetting it was there tempting a hungry dog and going to change the laundry. Not a good idea, or so I’ve heard…
And since I’m sharing my favorite bread recipe, I’ll add my crouton recipe too. Often I will have a little bit of bread leftover at the end of the week that I don’t want to go to waste. I cut it into small cubes and make croutons (especially delish with the garlic herb bread leftovers).
4 c. bread cubes
4 T. butter, melted
2 t. basil, 1 t. garlic powder – optional (you can stir these into the melted butter if you want. Typically I just use the garlic herb bread so I don’t need more herbs or garlic).
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Pour melted butter over bread cubes and toss to coat evenly. Bake on cookie sheet for approximately 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Store tightly covered at room temperature.
Great for salad toppers, adding to soup, snacks after nap (or anytime really), munching on in the car, putting into an empty cranberry juice bottle to keep your dog busy and more…