Homemade Bread

“God gives us the ingredients for our daily bread, but He expects us to do the baking.”

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A couple of years ago my husband bought me a stand mixer for my Christmas present and I LOVED it. Baking was so much easier and it got me to try a lot of new baking recipes that I wasn’t able to make before. One of those recipes included bread. Since I married my husband, over 5 years ago, I started making a lot of what we ate from scratch because it was cheaper for us. However, the last five years has also opened my eyes to the other benefits of making things from scratch, like the health benefits and taste. We started to pay close attention to what we were eating including the ingredients in our food and this led us to ban a lot of things in our home. One of the things we stay away from at the grocery store is bread. Have you ever read the ingredients label on a package of bread? There are so many additives and chemicals in the bread that it’s not something I really want my girls to eat even if it is does involve making a quick lunch of peanut butter and jelly. One of the ingredients in bread that we really wanted to avoid was called Azodicarbonamide, or ADA. This chemical achieves similar results that ascorbic acid achieves, but it’s also used as a dough relaxer by bread factories to help the dough keep its form after being divided with pressure. The principle use of ADA is in the making of foamed plastic. Plastic!? That was definitely the tide turner.

A few months ago, my poor mixer met its death early and while I was waiting for a replacement we had to go out and buy a loaf of bread for my girls. It literally took me half an hour to find a loaf of bread that didn’t have ADA in it! Even the “All Natural” breads had it in them. It was frustrating and when I finally found a loaf of ADA-free bread it was nearly $4.00. At this point I had been making bread for about 1 1/2 years so when we finally ate this store bought bread it was DISGUSTING. And that’s when I vowed never again under any circumstances would we ever buy commercial bread.

When I started making bread I tried to start out easy. I looked at a lot recipes for bread: French bread, “easy” bread, and sandwich bread. It took a lot of trial and error for me to finally get the hang of it. Bread making is a precise “art” and it’s not something that you can rush to make. It takes a while, but the end result will be well worth the wait. With homemade bread, I know what my family is eating and that makes me happy and relieved. This is also a bread that is nice and filling, unlike the name and store brands that leave you wanting more to eat. For a while we were eating just plain white sandwich bread, but then I stumbled onto this recipe, Oatmeal White Bread, and we love it. It’s a simple recipe and so far it’s the best bread we’ve ever had.

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1. Mix brown sugar, softened butter, salt, warm milk, warm water, yeast and 3 cups of flour together. P1110409

Once you get those mixed together add in quick cooking oats and mix well.

2. Add in more flour 1/2 cup increments at a time until the dough starts to pull from the sides of the mixer (I ended up using 5 1/2 cups) like this:

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Then stop adding in flour and switch over to the dough hook and knead the dough until a soft dough is obtained. (Note: don’t worry if the dough is a little sticky, you want it to be sticky just not overly sticky. )

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2. Once the dough is soft ( I kneaded mine for about 5-6 minutes on low speed) transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl, turning it once to coat both sides with oil,

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and let it rise in a warm place for about an hour and a half or until the dough has doubled in size.

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3. Punch the dough down

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and divide it into two equal pieces.

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Roll each half into a 12 x 9 rectangle (or something close to it)

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and bring the short edges together to overlap

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and then tightly roll the dough starting at the short end. Seal the edges together and pinch the sides closed with the rest of the seam.

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Grease two loaf pans ( the original recipe calls for two 9 x 5 loaf pans, but mine were a little bigger than that and they worked out just fine) and sprinkle oats on the bottom.

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Place each loaf seam-side down and gently press the dough so that all four sides will touch the pan. Go ahead and pre-heat the oven to 400F (which will help speed up the second rising).

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Place both pans in a warm place again and allow the dough to double again.

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Once the dough has doubled (about an hour to an hour and a half) bake both loaves for 25-30 minutes or until browned. You will know the bread is ready if when you tap on the top it sounds hollow.

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Let the bread rest and cool completely before you slice it up.

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Enjoy!

Oatmeal White Bread

(adapted from Cooks Joy)

Ingredients:

3 tbsp. Brown Sugar

3 tbsp. softened Butter

2 tsp. Salt

2 cups warm Milk (warmed in the microwave for 1 minute, 20 seconds)

3/4 cup warm Water

4 tsp. Yeast

5-6 cups Bread Flour

1 cup Quick Cooking Oats

Directions:

1. Mix the  brown sugar, butter, salt, milk, yeast, and 3 cups of flour together with a paddle attachment. Next, add in the oats and mix together thoroughly on low speed. Add in more flour 1/2 cup at a  time until the dough starts to pull from the sides of the mixer. Stop adding the flour and knead the dough, with the dough hook attachment, until a soft dough is obtained (about 5 minutes on low speed).

2. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat it, and place the bowl in a warm area. Let the dough rise for one to one and a half hours, or until it is doubled in size.

3. Punch the dough down and turn it out and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Roll each half into a 12 x 9 rectangle and bring the short ends together in the middle to overlap.  Tightly roll the dough starting at the short edge and seal the ends to make a seam. Pinch the sides closed and bring them together with the seam.

4. Grease two loaf pans and sprinkle oats on the bottom of each pan and place the loaves seam-side down in each pan.

5. Preheat the oven to 400F. Allow the loaves to rise again and then bake both  for 25-30 minutes, or until brown.