We’ve had a problem lately. They have stopped selling our favorite bread. We are a little spoiled because we lived in Romania for 8 years and had access to some of the best bread in the world everyday. We just can’t go back to enjoying Wonder Bread or whatever other kind of nice soft bread people make and sell in grocery stores. We felt good because we had found some bakery bread here that is like Romanian bread in the local E-Mart, but for several weeks, there hasn’t been any, and we are afraid they won’t sell any more. We are struggling for good bread. I made bread rolls once, we bought bread rolls, too, but the rolls we bought just weren’t as good as bakery bread or homemade bread rolls. Today, I decided to fix the problem for a few days and make some loaves of homemade yeast bread.
I began with a big mixing bowl and two packages of yeast. After putting the two packages of yeast in the bowl, I added two cups (16 ounces or 450 grams) of warm water. The water should be very warm, but not so hot that you can’t put your finger in it comfortably. If you get it too hot, it will kill the yeast. If you don’t get it warm enough, the yeast will not work and the bread won’t rise, so be careful with the temperature. I always use a wire whip to mix my bread.
Next, I added 3/4 cup (about 335 grams) of sugar. You have to have sugar in yeast bread to make the yeast work. If you don’t want it quite as sweet, add 1/2 cup of sugar instead of 3/4 cup. After that, I added 1/2 cup (4 ounces or about 1 13 grams) of cooking oil, and also added three eggs and mixed them in.
The next step is to begin adding flour. I thought I had whole wheat flour, but I couldn’t find it, so this has to be completely white bread. If you want whole wheat bread, don’t make all your flour whole wheat and keep the 3/4 cup of sugar because whole wheat flour doesn’t rise as easily as white flour. It needs extra sugar. And, if you make all six cups of flour whole wheat, the bread will be a giant lump of a mess. It will not rise, so if you want to make whole wheat, just add one cup (225 gram) of whole wheat flour, and five cups all white flour. If you don’t have whole wheat flour as I don’t today, just add 6 cups of white flour.
I usually add my flour one cup at a time mixing it each time with a wire whip until I get about four cups already mixed in, and then I know the wire whip must come out, and I mix in the next two cups of flour with a spoon.
After you have mixed the flour in, you are not done with your dough. Next, you must knead the dough. Sprinkle some flour on top of the dough and get flour on your hands. Push the dough up away from the bottom of the bowl and fold it over on the top of the dough. Just keep doing it again and again. Your dough will be good and stiff. When all the flour is mixed in well, then you are done.
The next step is to get another mixing bowl and cover the bottom and sides with cooking oil. Take your dough out of its original bowl and put it in the bowl with the cooking oil covering the sides and bottom, then turn it over. You will have oil on both sides of the dough, but your dough shouldn’t be floating in oil. Next, just set the bowl aside in a warm place where you know it won’t be bothered and cover it with a clean dish cloth. Leave it for a couple of hours until it has risen so much it is coming out of the bowl. They usually say, “until it is double in bulk.”
When your dough is double in bulk, it is time to push it down. Make a fist and put your fist in the middle of the dough. Before you take half the dough out of the bowl, you will want to get your bread pans. Put oil in the bread pans. Make sure they have oil on the sides and bottom of the pans. Now, you can take out half of your bread dough and kind of pat it out flat in your hand, then roll it over, then roll it over again. The loaf is formed, and you can put it in the pan. After you put it in the pan, you will want to turn it over again. Do the same thing for the second half of the dough.
Set these aside again in a warm place that won’t be bothered for a couple of hours. Cover them with a clean dish towel. I actually messed my dish towel up, so I put clean paper towel over it this time. Leave it for a couple of hours until it grows enough to be coming out of the top of the pan. It is time to bake the bread.
Turn your oven on to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You will want to bake your bead for about 30 minutes. If you are not using an oven with Fahrenheit, I found a chart I made a long time ago when I lived in Nigeria that can help you. I adapted it from a chart from an Amish cookbook. The Amish cookbook told how to convert from cooking with a wood oven to Fahrenheit, and I played with it while I was cooking with an oven using Centigrade, and figured out how hot the oven should be in Centigrade.
Slow oven = 250-325 F. = 120 C.
Moderate = 350-375 F. = 130 -160 C.
Moderate hot oven = 375 – 400 F. = 180-190 C.
Hot oven = 400 – 450 F. = 200 C.
Very hot oven = 450 – 500 F. = 230 C.
While I was typing, I smelled my bread, and it didn’t smell right, so I went to check. The bread was done before 30 minutes and getting a little dark on top. Next time, I will move my oven wrack down when making bread because evidently, my oven is so small that it was too close to the heating element, but the bread turned out good anyway.
When I took it out of the oven, I rubbed butter on the top. I took it out of the pans right away because I was worried if I left it in the pans, it would stick to the pan, then I left it to cool. If you try a piece now, you can melt butter on it. Don’t put it in a plastic bag until it is completely cool because if you do, it will continue cooking in the plastic bag. If you don’t put it in plastic bags when it is done, the crust will be hard. My daughter was thrilled when she got home from work. The first thing she did was go for the homemade bread!