Homemade Bread

Before the pandemic, I heavily preferred cooking to baking. While this is still true today, one of the items I have enjoyed baking is various different kinds of bread. In fact, it has gotten to the point where I no longer buy bread from the store and stick to making my own instead. When I started baking bread, I stuck to sandwich rolls, breadsticks, and pretzel buns, since those were the main items Cole and I enjoyed eating with our meals; however, this year we started experimenting with paninis, which meant I needed to work on developing bread loaf recipes. In this recipe, I’ve included ingredient lists for both wheat and white bread, but the directions remain the same for both of them. 

White Bread Ingredients

1 ⅜ cups Whole Milk

1 ½ tbsp Sugar

2 tsp Active Dry Yeast

1 Large Egg

4 Cups Bread Flour

1 ½ tsp Salt

2 tbsp Butter

Wheat Bread Ingredients

1 ½ cups Whole Milk

1 ½ tbsp Sugar

2 tsp Active Dry Yeast

1 Large Egg

1 ½ tsp Salt

3 Cups Bread Flour

1 Cup Wheat Flour

2 ½ tbsp Butter

Special Tools Needed

Standing Mixer with a Bread Hook

3 Rectangle Loaf Pans

Rolling Pin

Directions

1. Heat the milk in the microwave until it is warm. Ideally this should be between 85-95 degrees, or just warm enough to put your finger into without burning it. If you heat it for too long, give it a little time to cool before mixing other ingredients in. 

2. Using a whisk, dissolve the yeast and sugar into the milk. Let this rest for 5-7 minutes or until the top of the milk gets frothy. 

3. Pour the yeast mixture into the bottom of the standing mixer and add in the egg. Turn on low and spin until the egg is combined. 

4. Add the flour and salt into the mixing bowl. 

5. If the butter is not soft, use the defrost function on the microwave to make it softer. Ideally it should be very soft, but not melted. Only use the microwave 15 seconds at a time, or it could get more melty than desired. 

6. Add the softened butter on top of the flour in little scoops. I usually divide the tablespoons of butter into about eight small scoops to accomplish this. 

7. Once all of the ingredients are in the bowl, turn the mixer on a low setting and leave it on for 7 minutes. Since the bread hook is attached to the mixer, this will allow the ingredients to be combined and the dough to be kneaded. 

8. Grease a large mixing bowl with butter and place the kneaded dough into it. Cover the bowl with a light towel, and place it somewhere warm to rise. It should take roughly 90 minutes for the dough to rise. 

Kitchen Tip: Dough rises best in an 80-90 degree environment. It might take longer for the dough to rise if it is kept somewhere cooler than this. Some new ovens have a bread proof button. This will set the internal temperature of the oven to exactly the temperature at which dough rises at best. I always use my bread proof feature when making any type of bread, but if your oven does not have this feature, find the next warmest place in your house. 

9. Once the dough ball has risen, take it out of the bowl and shape it into a log. Cut the log into three separate pieces, which will eventually be the three separate loaves. 

10. Use a rolling pan to flatten each separate piece of dough into a flat rectangular shape that is about the same length as the loaf pans. Next roll the rectangle so that it once again resembles a log, but this time there should be a hollow center as it is rolled. This will allow the dough room for expansion so it will be light and fluffy. Pinch the ends of the log shut and round them out so it looks like a loaf. The seam on the bottom of the loaf may need to be pinched shut and smoothed out too. Repeat this process for all three loaves.

Rolled Out Rectangle
Rolled loaf before pinching ends shut.

11. If you are using metal loaf pans, line them with parchment paper before placing the loaves into the pans. If you are using glass or stone, grease the pans before setting the loaves in. I use olive oil when I grease my stone pans by gently rubbing in the olive oil with a paper towel until the entire stone is covered in a light layer of grease, but I could see how butter could be a viable option in a glass pan. (Full disclosure – I have never tried this recipe in glass pans.)

Kitchen Tip: Whenever I cook bread I prefer to use stoneware. I buy all of my stoneware products from Pampered Chef, but a quick search on Amazon does show some options from other companies. 

12. Cover the loaf pans with a light towel and allow them to rise in the same warm place you used for the dough ball. It should take about 60 minutes for them to rise. 

13. After the loaves have risen, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the bread for 25-30 minutes. In my convection oven this takes only 25 minutes, but it could take longer in a regular oven. It will be done when the top is golden brown.

Kitchen Tip: One rule I followed when I first started baking bread loaves was the “knock on your bread” rule. When a loaf of bread is finished, you should be able to lightly rap on it with your knuckles without the top indenting. This should produce a slight hollow sound when it is knocked on.

White Bread
Wheat Bread

Baking bread was something that heavily intimidated me before. In fact, I used to own a bread maker and make all of my bread in that machine instead. Bread making machines work great if you only want to bake a single loaf, but I love that my standing mixer can make the process of kneading dough simple, and allow me to make three loaves at a time. Standing mixers are pricey, but they definitely come in handy. 

If you make this recipe but don’t need 3 loaves of bread, there is no need to worry! Homemade bread can be frozen. Simply wrap the loaves first in parchment paper, then wrap them in freezer paper and tape all the ends shut. This will keep the bread fresh for at least 6 months.

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