What must you break apart in order to bring a family close together? Bread, of course. – Jodi Picoult
While my fellow mangoes and I were discussing this week’s posts and discovered a common thread, we decided to declare this week Bread Week. What’s Bread Week, you ask? It’s kind of like Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, only way less bloody and 100 times more delicious! We all love bread, so we thought a week devoted to the pursuit of baking and eating bread would be a good thing.
The first installment of Bread Week comes from a recipe I’ve decided to call Our Daily Bread. This simple unpretentious bread reminds me to pause and give thanks for even the most basic necessities of life. Enjoy =)
There’s nothing quite like the smell of bread baking in the oven – warm, yeasty and oh so comforting. I have always been a hopeless lover of bread; 5-grain, sourdough, pumpernickel, rye, Cuban, French, challah, naan, focaccia, I could eat my weight in them!
When my wonderful mother-in-law started baking all of their sandwich bread, I knew hers was a recipe I needed to have. Since she shared it with me at Christmas last year, we have not bought a single loaf of bread at the grocery store. It may sound like a major undertaking to bake your family’s bread, but I promise you it is not.
Here’s what I love most – there are a grand total of six ingredients (okay, 7 if you count water) in this bread. Care to guess how many ingredients are in the average loaf of store-bought bread? At least 30, most of which you can’t pronounce and usually including one called azodicarbonamide, a chemical also used to make yoga mats and shoe rubber. Um, no thanks.
Before we dive in, let’s talk about flour for a minute. You can use all-purpose flour here. The result will be a very yummy but not super sturdy bread. Great for toast and jam, but perhaps a little too delicate for a BLT. I like using either half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose or four cups hard white wheat and two cups of bread flour. You can play with it and try different combinations until you find one that is just right for you.
So here we go, let’s make some simple wholesome bread!
In a large bowl or in your stand mixer, combine the sugar, yeast and 1 3/4 cups of hot water (needs to be around 115 degrees to activate the yeast), and let sit for 5-10 minutes. And if you are a bread nerd like me, you will pull over a stool and watch with childlike wonder as the yeast “blooms” and turns into a frothy fragrant slurry.
Note: If for some reason your yeast does not activate, you’ll want to abort mission here and try to troubleshoot. Check the date on your yeast. If it looks okay, make sure that your water temp is right. Too cool and it will not activate the yeast. Too hot and it will kill it. Also, storing your instant yeast in the refrigerator will extend its shelf life.
Once your yeast has activated, add in the oil, salt and egg and mix to incorporate. Unless you want your kitchen to become a winter wonderland, add the six cups of flour into your mixer 1-2 cups at a time, mixing after each addition. You can use a large wooden spoon to mix, but I always let my KitchenAid do the work for me with the bread hook attachment.
Continue mixing until a nice sticky dough has formed.
Cover your bowl with a tea towel and let rise for an hour and a half.
After rising, your bread should have at least doubled in volume. Divide the dough in half (I’m a perfectionist, so I take a knife and slice down the middle of my dough ball to get nice even halves) and place dough into two greased loaf pans. Cover with a tea towel and let rise for another hour.
Now it’s time to put these lovely loaves into the oven! I like to bake mine on the second rack from the bottom. Bake for 30 minutes at 350.
Remove your little bundles of joy from the oven and admire your handiwork.
Then go ahead and slice yourself off a thick piece and enjoy it. I like mine with some real butter and a little jam or raw honey. My husband likes to slather his in Nutella.
Since this bread is happily free from any preservatives, it does need to be eaten within a week or so. This has never been an issue in my household – seriously, half of one loaf usually disappears within minutes of its emergence from the hot oven. However, if you feel like two loaves might be too much for one week, you can pop one of the loaves into a gallon size Ziplock and pop it in the freezer. Or, wrap that baby up and take it to a friend or shut-in. (I’ll be posting next week about how to gift your delicious daily bread…stay tuned!)
Made it? Loved it? Share it! If you try out any of our recipes, we would love to hear from you! Snap a quick pic, post it to Instagram and don’t forget to tag #TheRuffledMango so we can see it!
- 6 cups flour
- 4 teaspoons instant yeast
- 3/4 cups white sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil or vegetable shortening
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 3/4 cups warm water (115 degrees)
- In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, combine sugar, yeast and warm water. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until the yeast has activated and a thick foam covers the bowl.
- Stir in oil, egg and salt.
- Add in flour, one cup at a time, mixing after each addition. If using a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and let the mixer run for a few minutes after all the flour has been added. Otherwise, use a sturdy wooden spoon to incorporate the flour.
- Cover bowl with a tea towel and let the dough rise for 1 1/2 hours.
- Divide the risen dough into two halves and place each half in a greased loaf pan.
- Cover loaf pans with tea towel and let rise for another hour.
- Place risen loaves into a 350 degree oven, on second rack from the bottom, and bake for 30 minutes.