Contrary to popular belief making bread is a cinch....especially if you have a mixer....which I do not. For all of you that whine about kneading being too much work - get over it! If you make a bunch of loaves at once....you only have to knead for 8 minutes (approx) every, oh, 6 weeks!
For the rest of you that swear you are yeast challenged - you gotta try this recipe. You can't go wrong!
First, for all you newbies, CHECK THE EXPIRY DATE ON YOUR YEAST. If it's overdue then it probably won't rise for you!
This recipe is for 6 loaves but it adjusts easily...just gotta do the math! I usually make 4 or 5 loaves and use the rest to make buns.
6 cups warm water
1/2 cup margerine, melted
1/2 cup white sugar
6 tsp salt
2-3 Tbsp yeast....I always use 3.....
An indefinite amount of flour**
In a BIG bowl, whisk together the water, sugar, salt, melted margerine, yeast and 2 cups flour.
Add flour until the dough pulls away from the edges of the bowl. I realize that a lot of people are afraid of imprecise measurements. So far I haven't had a loaf turn out badly and I don't have a bloody clue how much flour I add! I usually add the flour a cup at a time until it starts to get pretty hard to mix and then I start adding it a little bit at a time. I use my hands and knead until the dough pretty much stops sticking to my fingers. Apparently you're supposed to knead for 8 minutes or 12 or something....I don' t know. I just knead 'til my arms are tired.
**I usually use half white flour and half brown flour - again....I have never measured precisely half...I just have both containers open on my container and I just take a scoop from one and then a scoop from the other.
** Also, I often soak 1/2 cup red river cereal in 1 cup hot water for 15 minutes or so until it's soft and add that in the mix too. No need to adjust the flour amount! I only do this when I'm making bread, not buns.
Back to the instructions!
When you deem your dough "good enough" put a tea towel over the bowl and let it rise for 15 minutes. Punch it down and do this two more times.
For bread, I divide my dough into equal parts between loaf pans. I take a lump of dough and I work it so that it is oval-shaped and smooth on the top. You want the creases (seams) to be on the bottom so you have a nice smooth crust when it comes out of the oven. Of course, this doesn't affect the bread itself so there's nothing wrong with a few ugly loaves 'til you get it figured out! Place each loaf into a greased loaf pan.
Cover your loaves with a tea towl and let rise another 15 minutes. Check on them and let them sit a little longer if they haven't filled the bottom of the pan. Keep in mind they will rise more in the oven so you don't want to wait 'til they are as big as a baked loaf! Bake at 400 degrees Farenheit. 20 -25 minutes should do it. I use a thermometer that I set for 200 degrees F and stick the end in the bread and it beeps when the bread is ready to come out! Nothin to worry about.
For buns, first I rub vegetable oil over my hands to keep the dough from sticking. Then I tear off a small handful of dough. To make nice round buns, make a circle by touching your index finger and thumb together of your left hand. Push the piece of dough up through the hole with your right hand and pinch the bottom off. It's hard to describe but you want the ragged edges and folds to be on the bottom of your buns.
Place on a greased cookie sheet and cover with a tea towl. Let rise for another 15 minutes. Sometimes you have to leave them a little longer but keep in mind that they will rise a little bit more in the oven!
Bake at 400 degrees Farenheit for 12-15 minutes. I wanted to take more pictures but my camera died soooo you'll just have to imagine fresh bread and buns!
Try it and let me know how it goes!