Thursday, April 14, 2011

White Bread for One...or More ~

It's white bread for one unless I have company, of course. I'm saying it's for one because I make this recipe into 4 small loaves of bread. I haven't made bread in a while, but after buying some whole wheat bread made by the bakery in Albertson's, I realized that I'm just wanting some homemade bread to eat--the ultimate comfort food. I'm sure I've given this recipe to you before because it's my favorite white bread recipe from the King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook. The picture on the left is the bread I made today right out of the oven. For supper, I had a bowl of homemade vegetable soup and the bread. Below is the dough rising in the bowl.

I was talking on the phone when I decided to make some bread today, and I thought it wouldn't be possible because I saw that I was out of milk. But determined to find a way, I began looking through my cookbook. And that's when I saw that the recipe called for water, not milk, but with a half cup of powdered milk if you wanted to add it--and I did. That was new for me, as well as using bread flour rather than all-purpose flour. I've used bread flour in some other bread recipes, but not this one. I enjoy doing something different so I can anticipate the result coming out of the oven. And this is no different...I expect it to work out, but baking can take on a life of its own and turn into a fiasco. But not usually!

The soup was made yesterday when I realized I had vegetables from Los Poblanos Organic Farm that were going to ruin if I didn't use them. I first sauteed two big white onions and garlic in olive oil, added lots of carrots, chicken broth, canned diced tomatoes, kale, cabbage, and a can of white beans. I prefer the white kidney beans because their taste and texture is cleaner and not so pasty, but most of them have additives that I don't want to eat, so I didn't find any to use this time. And I've learned from trying the olive oil on orange slices that Colavita extra virgin olive oil has a very "soft" taste and not that heavy green taste that so many of the extra virgin olive oils have. I use a cheaper olive oil to cook with, but to add to my soup after it's in the bowl and for sprinkling on fresh orange slices, I'll be buying the Colavita. I love soup and I love bread, so I really enjoyed my supper tonight.
For dessert there were cooked apples left from yesterday when I saw a bag of yellow and red apples Lisa had given me on Sunday. Again, it was a matter of cooking them or losing them. They are very good with a little cinnamon mixed in. I don't have a picture of them though. I took many of my bread, so that's what's on here! This bread seemed somewhat soft and not as tasty as I remembered, but it may be because I've been eating whole wheat bread. I talked to Kelly today, and she said that adding powdered milk can make the dough softer. So that's the answer to my riddle. 
I'm contemplating a mini Zojrushi bread machine, which makes a half loaf of bread. Paula, her husband, Jim, and their sons, Jon & Phillip, gave me money for Christmas and birthday. So I've about decided that I would love to have this bread machine to make tasty bread all the time. All thoughts on the subject will be appreciated. I've read endless reviews which assure me that I'll love it! 

And for anyone tempted to make this white bread, here's the recipe. And you can always go on the King Arthur Flour website. They have SO many good recipes for bakers.

Walter Sand's
Basic White Bread

2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons sugar or honey
1 tablespoon or packet active dry yeast
1/2 cup dry milk (optional)
2 tablespoons butter, softened, or vegetable oil (or a combination)
6 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon salt (or less if desired)

Making the dough: Pour the warm water into a large mixing bowl. Add and let dissolve the sugar or honey and yeast. When the yeast is bubbling, add the dry milk, softened butter, 5 1/2 cups of flour and the salt. (If you add the salt before adding flour, you'll kill the yeast.) With a large spoon, stir this mixture until it begins to hold together. Pour the remaing 1/2 cup of flour on the surface you intend to use for kneading.

Kneading: Turn the dough out onto the floured board and knead until it begins to feel as if it belongs together, about 3 or 4 minutes, adding only enough flour to keep it from sticking to the board or you. Let it rest while you clean and grease your bowl. Continue kneading the relaxed dough until it feels smooth and springy, another 3 or 4 minutes.

Rising: Form the dough into a nice ball, place it in the greased bowl, turning it so the top is lightly greased also. Cover it and put it where it will be warm and cozy (no drafts). Let this rise until it has doubled (when you can poke your finger in it and the dough doesn't spring back at you).

Shaping: Punch or knock the dough down, turn it out onto your floured board and knead out any stray bubbles. Cut it in half, form 2 loaves and place them in two lightly greased bread pans. (I cut my dough into 4 pieces and form loaves, putting 2 side by side in each pan. See pictures.)

Baking: With either of the following options, the longer baking time produces a crustier bread with a slightly drier interior.
  • Full Rise: Let the loaves rise until they are doubles (about an hour). About 15 minutes before you want to bake the bread, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the loaves in the preheated oven and bake 35 to 40 minutes. This method makes the lightest loaves.
  • Partial Rise: Let the loaves rise for only 30 to 40 minutes. Place them in a cold oven, set the temperature to 400 degrees F for 15 minutes and lower it to 350 degrees F for a further 20 to 25 minutes.
This second method takes a little less time from beginning to end and avoids the possibility of the bread dough rising too far and then collapsing. The bread itself won't be quite as light but it will still be very good.

Fresh homemade bread is well worth the effort if you have the time. Once you learn the basics of breadmaking, you can throw it together and let it rise without your attention. Your family will thank you for this lovely heartfelt contribution to their meals. Have a wonderful Friday!



  1. Great combo-soup & bread. I tried Cannelli beans which are an Italian version of the northern white bean in the last soup I made. They are starchier & make a thicker soup.

  2. Thanks...I had cinnamon toast this morning which was good, but the bread is just TOO soft. I've always been pleased with it, so I'm sure it's the bread flour. I've used cannelli beans before and like them better than white beans for use in soups. I make up my own versions of soup based on what I have in the frig. Thanks for commenting.