The legendary James Beard once said, "Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of all feasts. For whatever reason, the thought of making my own bread was a scary proposition. I like to think of myself as a fairly decent cook and I have yet to come across an entree that I was afraid to try to make myself. But baking? I haven't been so successful in that endeavour. Cooking in my opinion is very forgiving, unless you get particularly heavy-handed with the salt or some other overpowering seasoning. Baking is an exact science and cooking is more laissez-faire.
On a particularly cold, rainy Saturday morning, I would have given anything for some homemade bread to make toast for breakfast. My brain was overwhelmed with memories of the aroma of homemade bread baking in the oven and the taste of a still-warm slice of bread with butter melted into it. Could I possibly be successful at baking my own homemade bread? Surely, it would require more baking skill than I possess. I decided to do a little google search to see if I could find an easy, foolproof, minimal-ingredient recipe for homemade white bread when what to my wandering eyes should appear, but a youtube video of The French Chef with Julia Child , making what else but homemade white sandwich bread.
Julia Child has always been one of my biggest mentor. I can totally relate to her refreshing, pragmatic and, often times, clumsy, approach to cooking. With that, one of my favourite Julia Child quotes came to mind: "The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking, you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude". Darn right, Julia! What the heck? What did I have to lose? It was a miserable cold day and I had NO intentions of stepping my gentille tootsies outside the door, I had all the necessary ingredients at my fingertips and, worse case scenario, the bread wouldn't rise, but I would have spent a few hours in my warm kitchen that, rise or not, would most likely smell heavenly from the aroma of baking bread.
I decided to give it a shot! I perused recipe after recipe for homemade white bread and just when I was about to abandon the notion for that day, I stumbled on a recipe for 'Julia Child's White Sandwich Bread' in a blog by ' Dinner With Julie '. But her recipe for Homemade White Sandwich Bread seemed simple enough, required only active dry yeast, warm water, sugar, flour, salt and butter and made a small enough batch of bread that, even if I failed, it wouldn't be too too terrible of a waste.
Encouraged and determined, I pressed onward! Here are the ingredients you'll need to make this Homemade White Sandwich Bread:. Perhaps the most important step in the making of homemade bread is the activation of the yeast.
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Yeast is a living thing, as creepy as that sounds, and it needs to be treated kindly. If the water isnt warm enough, it simply won't 'wake up'. If the water is too hot, it will die. My thoughts were that one person's warm water are another person's cool or hot. So just what is 'warm or tepid' water?
Well, turns out, according to the experts, tepid water is water that is approximately to degrees Fahrenheit, approximately 40 degrees Celsius.
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Sure enough, hottish-warm to my fingers is degrees Fahrenheit. I added 1 Tbsp active dry yeast to the hottish-warm water, gave it a little stir, and then sat and waited for 5 minutes for the yeast to 'activate', as was suggested in all recipes. Surely you've heard the term, 'a watched pot never boils'? Some things are just not meant to be watched Anyway, my daughter came into the kitchen at that moment with an urgent question as to whether or not she could go to a movie with her friend that afternoon, I eagerly said yes, one less obstacle to my foul weather Saturday lazy day , and returned to the yeast in the hottish-warm water, clapping my hands in joy to see bubbles and foaming.
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This is the point at which you move forward with your bread or start all over again. It's the yeast that makes the bread, well, bread! No bubbles, no foam, no rise. There are a couple of little things I did differently when making my bread than one or both of Julia or Julie did with their bread and adding the sugar in with the yeast to the hottish-warm water was one of them.
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However, when the yeast had bubbled and foamed, I did stir in the 1 Tbsp sugar, so it was in there, just not at the initial activation of the yeast stage. Would it have woke up faster? I dunno I can only tell you what worked for me. In a large bowl, I added 3 cups flour and stirred in 1 tsp kosher salt.
You can use table salt or ground sea salt, entirely up to you, but I will note, kosher salt is actually fairly substantially lower in sodium than both table salt and sea salt. Another little tidbit of information I found out when researching bread recipes is this: whether you scoop the flour out of the bag of flour or a flour canister, or pour the flour into your measuring cups, changes how much flour you'll need. Who knew, right? I'm guessing it has to do with incorporating air into the flour when you pour it out, but I'm not certain.
For the purposes of this recipe, dip your measuring cup into the bag of flour, fill it, and use a knife to swipe across the top to get rid of any excess, don't our into your measuring cup. Anyhoot, on with the bread!
Easy Homemade White Sandwich Bread
I then added the remaining 2 cups hottish-warm water, stirred and added the remaining 3 cups flour, one cup at a time. The result was this 'shaggy', for lack of a better word, ball of dough. Once it formed a more 'scruffy' than 'shaggy' ball, I know And then I let the dough rest for another 5 minutes. I'm sure you also remember the time when Jesus fed a crowd of people with just five loaves of bread and two small fish. Do you remember when Jesus taught his disciples to pray? He taught them to say, "Give us this day our daily bread.
Bread tastes very good, and when we are hungry, eating bread is a good way to satisfy our hunger. But guess what? Tomorrow we will be hungry again! What if there was a bread that we could eat and not be hungry again?
Wouldn't that be great? Bread can provide vitamins and minerals to help us grow strong and healthy, but eating bread won't help us live forever. Wouldn't it be wonderful if there was bread which, if we ate it, we would live forever? After Jesus fed the 5, with five loaves of bread and two small fish, many people followed him. The only problem was, they followed Jesus, not because of his teaching, they followed him because he fed them. Jesus said, "You come looking for me because you ate the loaves and had your fill.
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