Do you love bread? If so, I’ve got the perfect recipe for baking basic bread. With just six simple ingredients, you can make the best bread you’ve ever had. This recipe comes straight from my mama and can be used in so many different ways. Let’s get started!
Here’s what you’ll need:
¼ cup of sugar
¼ cup of butter or shortening
1 ½ teaspoon of salt
¾ cup of dry milk*
1 ⅓ cup of warm water
3 ½ cups of flour
2 ¼ teaspoons of yeast
*Note: I use powdered milk because I never have regular milk on hand. You can substitute with regular milk, but just remember to reduce the amount of water you add.
Before we dive into the directions, here are a few things to keep in mind. I like to use a bread machine on the dough setting, but you can also mix the dough by hand. If you choose to use a bread machine, the loaf may have a hole in the bottom from the paddle. I prefer to divide the dough into two smaller loaves for more versatility in shaping. But it’s totally up to you!
Now, let’s get baking!
Start by combining your wet ingredients in your bread machine or a large bowl. Wet ingredients include those that dissolve in water, such as sugar and salt. I’ve listed the ingredients in the order they should be added, so it’s super easy for you.
Next, add in the flour and create a well for your yeast.
Add the yeast and start mixing. If you’re using a bread machine, it will handle the mixing, kneading, and rising for you. If you’re mixing by hand, make sure the ingredients are well combined and knead until the dough is springy.
Once the dough is ready, take it out of the bread machine and divide it into smaller portions. This is your chance to get creative! Feel free to add in any additional ingredients like seeds, nuts, fruits, or seasonings. Just be careful not to overwork the dough. Allow the dough to proof for about 45-60 minutes.
While the dough is proofing, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Once the dough has proofed, bake it for 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven.
Finally, resist the temptation to slice into the bread right away. Allow it to cool before cutting. I know, it’s the hardest part!
Want to make sure your dough is perfectly kneaded? Try the windowpane test. Gluten is what gives dough its elasticity, and kneading it strengthens those proteins. To test if your dough has been kneaded enough, take a small portion and let it rest for a few minutes. Then, flatten it out and slowly pull it apart. If the dough breaks immediately, it needs more kneading. You’re looking for a thin, see-through pane of dough, just like a windowpane.
So there you have it – your ultimate guide to baking basic bread. Grab your ingredients and get ready to enjoy delicious homemade bread that’s sure to impress!