My Foray Into Food Storage

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Top Chef: Bread Edition. NOT! Truth Is, It All Comes Down To Personal Preference…

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Homemade Sourdough

Homemade Sourdough

 

Have I mentioned that I love bread?  Like, really love it.  So much so that I would gladly forgo dessert for a slice of yummy artisan bread (or a loaf or a pallet full).   Because I love it so much, I was scared to make bread.  I worried that I’d mess it up.  That it would be hard as a rock.  That it would be like the time I accidentally switched salt and sugar in a cookie recipe, and they tasted like play-doh.  (Don’t ask my how I know that.  I just do.)

 

More Sourdough!

More Sourdough!

 

Part of me wanted to leave bread as this lovely, ethereal thing that I hadn’t messed up yet.  But the more practical side of me won out, and I tried my hand at making my own bread.  I tried a few recipes from books and got some recipes from friends who made really good bread.  Surprise!  I found that it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.  There were a few things I needed to learn like proofing yeast and knowing when the bread has been kneaded enough (and ensuring I didn’t over knead), but those lessons were learned in no time.

 

I’ve only had one true bread “failure.”  I tried to improvise.  I made “bacon bread” with my son, and I failed miserably!  But I learned something from it.  Not that bacon can’t go in bread, but that you can’t leave and let bread rise for hours without checking on it.  LESSON LEARNED!

 

After making bread several times over several years and making countless dinner rolls, I decided to stop buying bread from the store and start making it at home.  I did this for three reasons.  First, I like homemade bread so much better than most store bought bread.  Second, I wanted to know what was in my bread.  And third, I wanted to “find” money to build my home food storage.  Making my own bread = found money.

 

I asked a friend for her recipe for bread, and she graciously gave me a precious copy.  Her bread is AMAZING!  Ask any of my church friends about Lindsey’s bread, and they’ll tell you the same thing.  It is an easy recipe, it takes very little work with no kneading, and it tastes great!  The trifecta of perfect homemade bread, right?

 

Easy Peasy Bread

Easy Peasy Bread

 

After I made it a few times, my kids said that they liked it, but they missed the bread I used to buy (Oroweat Buttermilk).  So I started “tweaking” the recipe for our tastes.  I made several attempts with small changes each time.  And with every batch, I asked the kids if it was better or worse than the last batch.  Don’t get me wrong, each batch of bread was still really good, but everyone has their own personal preferences when it comes to bread.  After 6 different versions, I settled on a recipe that my kids loved (and my sister told me it was the best homemade bread she’s ever had, no small compliment).

 

But, of course, I can’t leave well enough alone!  My husband sometimes asks me why I keep changing things when we find something we like.  I remind him of the times we’ve found a version we like even better.  Then my kids remind me of the cream of chicken, tuna, mushroom debacle.  (Don’t ask.)  I still believe it’s better to experiment.  I rarely have something come out inedible (even the yucky cream of chicken, tuna, mushroom creation was edible).  And if it’s truly awful, there’s always peanut butter sandwiches.  Unless I messed up the bread, then it’s peanut butter spoons, but you can live on that, right?

 

So, I made bread on Saturday and decided to tweak my recipe once again.  It turned out fine, but I don’t like it as much as my previous version.  I’ll give you both recipes so you can try them out, and let me know which recipe you prefer.  The dough making process is the same for both, so I’ll start with the lists of ingredients.

 

Ingredients minus Vital Wheat Gluten and Dough Enhancer.

Ingredients minus Vital Wheat Gluten and Dough Enhancer.  Do you like my “fancy” labels on my bins?  They’re made from Painter’s tape.  My husband was kind enough to draw bread on my bread flour label.

 

Easy, Peasy Bread (with Egg)

Ingredients:

5 cups bread flour

2 tablespoons yeast

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups of water

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/4 cup cream (or half-n-half, milk, evaporated milk, etc.)

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons salted butter, melted

1/4 cup vital wheat gluten

1 tablespoon dough enhancer

 

Vital Wheat Gluten and Dough Enhancer.  Both help make a nice sandwich bread.

Vital Wheat Gluten and Dough Enhancer. Both help make a nice sandwich bread.

 

Easy, Peasy Bread (My Favorite Version So Far!)

Ingredients:

5 cups bread flour

2 tablespoons yeast

1/2 cup sugar

2 1/4 cups of water

1/4 cup cream (or half-n-half, milk, evaporated milk, etc.)

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons salted butter, melted

1/4 cup vital wheat gluten

2 tablespoons dough enhancer

 

As I mentioned above, the instructions are the same for both.

 

Directions:

Proof yeast in 2 cups of warm, not hot, water with a little of the 1/2 cup of sugar mixed in.  Set aside.

 

Proofing Yeast: First step, add a little sugar to the warm water.

Proofing Yeast: First step, add a little sugar to the warm water.  While this isn’t required, I find it helps the yeast proof a little faster. 

 

Then add your yeast.  Make sure your water is not hot!  Hot water will kill the yeast.

Then add your yeast. Make sure your water is not hot! Hot water will kill the yeast.

 

Stir to combine.  I used a chopstick.  They are one of my favorite kitchen tools!

Stir to combine. I used a chopstick. Chopsticks are one of my favorite kitchen tools!

 

After about 5 minutes, your yeast should be bubbling up like this.

After about 5 minutes, your yeast should be bubbling up like this.  Then, you know it’s ready!

 

In a mixer (or a bowl if mixing by hand), put all dry ingredients in the bowl.  When the yeast has “proofed”, add it to the mixing bowl, along with the remaining wet ingredients.

 

I used the last of my powdered eggs in this recipe.  Instead of one egg, I used 2 T powdered egg and 3 T water (as per the instructions on the powdered eggs).

I used the last of my powdered eggs in this recipe. Instead of one egg, I used 2 T powdered egg (added with the dry ingredients) and 3 T water (added with the wet ingredients and as per the instructions on the powdered eggs).

 

Mix well until all ingredients are moist.  This may or may not form a ball.  If you want a firmer bread, add extra flour until a ball forms.  I leave mine a bit wet, so it doesn’t form a ball.  This is a personal preference thing, too.  You can add more flour or not.  It’s up to you.

 

Dough is mixed and ready to move to the counter.

Dough is mixed and ready to move to the counter.

 

Dump dough out onto a floured surface and cut in half.  Form two lumps of dough.

 

I just dumped it on the floured counter.

I just dumped it on the floured counter.

 

I like to put a little flour on top of the dough, but it's not necessary at this stage.

I like to put a little flour on top of the dough, but it’s not necessary at this stage.

 

 

Let it sit and rest for about 15 minutes.  I’ve let mine rest as long as 30 minutes when I’ve been busy with other things, and it still turns out fine.  You can’t leave it for hours, but the recipe is pretty forgiving.

 

It's ready!  See how there are "cracks" in the flour?  This is one way you know the dough has started to rise.

It’s ready! See how there are “cracks” in the flour? This is one way you know the dough has started to rise.

 

I didn't cut mine before I let it sit, but no matter.  I cut it just before pounding it out.

I didn’t cut mine before I let it sit, but no matter. I cut it just before pounding it out.

 

 

Pound each lump on the floured surface with a rolling pin for 1 minute each.

 

Pounding the bread with a rolling pin.

Pounding the bread with a rolling pin.

 

Form into a loaf.

 

Forming a loaf, step 1.

Forming a loaf, step 1.

 

Forming a loaf, step 2.

Forming a loaf, step 2.

 

Forming a loaf, step 3.

Forming a loaf, step 3.

 

Forming a loaf, step 4.  I folded this in on itself in thirds.

Forming a loaf, step 4. I folded this in on itself in thirds.

 

Forming a loaf, step 5.  Then I started to pinch the bottom together so the bread is sealed (helps with rising).

Forming a loaf, step 5. Then I started to pinch the bottom together so the bread is sealed (helps with rising).

 

Forming a loaf, step 6.  I folded it again and pinched it shut.

Forming a loaf, step 6. I folded it again and pinched it shut.

 

Forming a loaf, step 6 (continued).  Almost done pinching!

Forming a loaf, step 6 (continued). Almost done pinching!

 

Forming a loaf, step 7.  Now you have a loaf of bread!

Forming a loaf, step 7. Now you have a loaf of bread!

 

 

Put into a greased pan.

 

Two imperfect loaves which will make perfectly lovely bread!

Two imperfect loaves which will make perfectly lovely bread!

 

Let sit in pan and rise, about 20 minutes in a warm room, until the loaf is 1-inch over the pan edge.  (My house is a bit cooler right now, so it takes a little longer.)

 

Place in preheated, 400 degree F oven.  Bake for 10 minutes, then place a piece of foil over each loaf, so they don’t get too dark.  Bake for 15-20 minutes more until done.  Total baking time is 25-30 minutes (depending on your oven).

 

Bread!

Bread!

 

And VOILA!  You have bread!

 

Easy Peasy Bread - sliced and ready to go!

Easy Peasy Bread – sliced and ready to go!

 

Now it’s your turn!

Have you made bread?  Please share your greatest success and/or your greatest failure.

Did you try both of my bread recipes?  If so, which one did you like better?

If you haven’t made bread, what’s stopping you?   

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Author: Laurie Nguyen

I am a happily married, stay at home mom with four sons, ages 24, 22, 18, and 14. I'm not a professional blogger, and I'm certainly not a foodie or a chef. But I like food, so I think I'm qualified to write about my own life experience with food. Want to be a little more prepared for the unexpected? Check out my Food Storage Blog, http://forayintofoodstorage.com. Have a question about Food Storage? Email me: forayintofoodstorage@gmail.com.

49 thoughts on “Top Chef: Bread Edition. NOT! Truth Is, It All Comes Down To Personal Preference…

  1. These look delicious! 😀

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  2. I will definitely have to give this a try. I use to make a Jamie Oliver bread recipe that was quite rustic and had prosciutto in it, but haven’t made it for a while. This looks like something I could manage. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. I have been making bread since I was about the age of eight, which was when my arm muscle strength got good enough to kneed the bread dough on my own, I was started out on what was called, the easy white bun recipe.. now 30 years later, I still make a version of it.. I have to admit that I have not used a recipe in a long time, I found your breads interesting, I have never used that much sugar in a bread, I normally use one tbsp. of sugar or honey or molasses, depending on the kind of bread I am making, and sometimes I don’t even do that, if its a warm milk bread, there is enough natural sugars in the milk that I don’t feed the yeast anything more then that.

    I almost always replace water with fresh whole milk and almost all my breads have at least one or two farm fresh eggs in them, my fat (if I add fat at all, it depends on what I want the bread for and how long it needs to last), is normally lard, tallow, but if I am using milk and eggs, there is enough fats in them.

    Your bread looks lovely, high, fluffy and golden 🙂

    If you want a very fun bread to make, try this one..

    http://livingmydreamlifeonthefarm.wordpress.com/2010/12/13/sour-dill-rye-bread-recipe/

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  4. I have been grinding wheat to make a hearty whole wheat bread for years, but I have never tried “dough enhancer” which I see in the recipes you provided. My wife suggested that I try it years ago, but hey – I’m a man and I have a stereotype to maintain! If I go off and listen to my wife too often, people may start to worry!

    Anyway, I looked up what dough enhancer is on google and found this link on how to make your own:
    http://chickensintheroad.com/cooking/how-to-make-homemade-dough-enhancer/
    I may give it a try, as my recipe yields a very dense loaf that can be a bit difficult to make a sandwich with.

    Keep up the good work! I am always looking for ideas from people who actually try stuff!

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  5. You picked one of my favorite subjects since I love making bread. In fact in my last post I showed a picture of our proofing box since it gets pretty cold in IL. I have so many favorite recipes and now make all our bread including hamburger and hot dog rolls. No more store bought anymore 🙂 The taste is so much better when it’s homemade.

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  6. Laurie, I love all the step by step photos – so helpful for a novice like me! What does it mean to “proof” the yeast? I’m going to try this on Wednesday evening. I’ll let you know how it works. Thanks!

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  7. I have to admit that most of the time I cheat and use my bread maker. I have what my ex’s grandmother calls a “heavy hand”. The only way I can make bread “by hand” is if I make 2 batches and throw out the first one.

    Yours look delicious 🙂

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  8. Beautiful! I love making bread!

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  9. These could quite possibly be the tips and recipes I’ve been waiting my entire domesticated life for!
    Thanks for sharing

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  10. I love homemade bread. I started making it regularly recently and now my boys ask for it all the time! Next on my list is tackling burger and hot dog buns.

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  11. I also love making breads. I never tried using dough enhancer and vital wheat gluten. Those loaves look yummy 🙂

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  12. A very interesting post. Bread is one thing I haven’t attempted so far simply because I am scared and keep thinking that it will be a disaster! Hope one day I pluck up the courage.

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  13. Hey there – – dropping in to see what’s what here and thank you for following me (btw, how did you find me?) because then I could retrace the breadcrumbs back to….well, back to bread!! lol. I was read Hansel and Gretal a little too often when I was a child, but it happens to tie in to your blog too! I’ve never made bread in my entire life. This may sound odd, but I had the strangest feeling that all your prose in the beginning of this post were about more than just bread. Like it was symbolic or a metaphor for other significant and meaningful things in life (not that bread isn’t meaningful – – bread itself is symbolic, right?) but just some of your phrasing and the tone. Anyhow, I’m odd. Plain and simple. But thank you for following me anyway.
    Stephanie

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  14. Dear Laurie. Thank you for liking my blog! It’s greatly appreciated. I see you love bread just as much as I do. And as I mentioned in my post about last night, we have great bread where I’m from. 😉 For us it’s regular bread, but I think you call it artisan or rustic bread. Our bread here is only valued a good one if the crust his crisp, flaky and light golden, and the inside is warm, airy, fluffy and just yummy! If you want I can share some pictures of our local bread. Or even some recipes? Just let me know. Cheers! 🙂

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  15. BTW, your bread looks really good!

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  16. Pictures are great and I love that you gave us your recipe! Thanks!

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  17. Those look yummy, may have to try them some day… but what’s stopping me is time. Honestly, there would be time to make bread, if that would be something I’d absolutely like to do. But between work and toddlers it rarely is what I choose to do… however, I was home with the kids for 3 years, and my onebig goal was to learn how to bake bread. And I did make it almost weekly, and I am proud to say that towards the end most of my bread actually succeeded! Home-made bread is sooo delicious!

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    • One reason I waited so many years to make bread was because I had young children. My littlest is now 12, so I have a little more time to keep my eye on bread rather than on my children (to make sure they don’t destroy themselves or my house).

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  18. I love how you love to cook! I’m a mom to three who’s forced to cook or let my kids starve. Goodness. I will try this! The thing with me is I want to get it over with as quickly as possible (cooking) Believe me the kids get irritated cos I’m the first one to say “Is it done yet?” bahaha! Wish me luck. 🙂

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    • Funny thing is I don’t *LOVE* to cook, but I do love eating good food. I don’t mind cooking, but I don’t usually wake up and think, “What can I cook today?”

      I often joke that the only reason my children are alive today is that they let me know that they’re hungry (unlike house plants of which I’ve killed many).

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  19. I have been baking bread from scratch for about two years. I hate store bought bread!!!

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  22. I have made breads before with both active dry yeast and sourdough. Even though sourdough bread takes longer to make, I love sourdough bread because its more natural.

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  23. Laurie, do I have to use the wheat gluten and dough enhancer? Is there something I might have on hand that could be substituted instead?

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    • You don’t have to, but it makes a big difference in the texture of the bread. Is it that you don’t have it on hand, or is it that you prefer not to have those added in? For wheat gluten, there’s really no substitute. But for dough enhancer, there are recipes for homemade dough enhancer online. The original recipe I altered did not call for dough enhancer. I just like the bread better when it has it. 🙂

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  25. I can’t wait to make this at home.. I’m scared of making bread, my sister used to make the most beautiful, fluffy loaves and even braided breads etc and I felt I just couldn’t compete. I’ll definitely be trying this recipe once I get my courage up! Thanks for a great blog 🙂

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  26. Reblogged this on 2 Boys 1 Homestead and commented:
    Definitely gonna make this.

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  27. Pingback: New, Improved, Super Easy Homemade White Bread! | My Foray Into Food Storage

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