Not long ago, I baked bread and took some to someone. The conversation went something like this:
"you baked this?!"
"you didn't buy it, you baked it?!"
"ah, yeah it's no big deal, it's just bread, I didn't hang the moon."
What I didn't say, but thought was, it was easier than making a cake or pie.
But my friend got me thinking. People have this convoluted notion that making bread is hard. Hear me - IT'S NOT HARD. Truly, it's not. So....today, a bread lesson. Which is hilarious because I can name many people who can do it soooo much better than me, but I am the one writing this so you are stuck with me.
First, you must, must wear an apron. There is a certain mindset that comes from wearing an apron. It says "I am a cook, I am Aunt Bea," or if you're me," I am messy." I love an apron, so do put one on. Now, repeat after me, it's only yeast, it's only yeast...now, the yeast bread recipe anyone can make...in steps:
step 1...In a large bowl, combine 1 pkg yeast (I use Fleischmann's), 1 teas. salt, 1/2 cup sugar.
step 2...To this, add 2 cups very warm water (110-112*). If you are not sure of the temperature, do check it...too hot kills the yeast...dead yeast...bad. Too cool, the yeast won't "work."..lazy yeast...bad. DO NOT MIX...just pour the water in on top of the dry ingr.
step 3...Wait. Just wait about 5-7 minutes till the yeast begins to foam nicely. No foam...start over.
step 4...Once the foam forms, add about 2 cups of flour. Mix together by hand or mixer till you have a batter. To this, add one egg and 5 tablespoons or lard, butter OR shortening. I use butter, no lard available here, but that makes the BEST bread. Mix well.
step 5...Continue to add flour to your mixture until you have a nice soft ball of dough...I usually add about 2-3 more cups of flour. Again, mix well.
step 6...Once you have a nice soft ball of dough, put your dough hook on your mixer and let it do it's thing for 5-7 minutes of so, OR dump dough out onto a floured surface and...breathe deeply here, KNEAD for 5-7 minutes. Note: Kneading is NOT rocket science...it is only pulling the ball of dough toward you with your fingers and pushing it down and away from you with the heal of your hands. You will know you have kneaded enough when the dough is smooth and has a nice elastic feel to it. When you push down on it with your finger it will spring back up. Even if I do use the dough hook, I like to knead by hand a little to make the dough nice and smooth and not sticky.
step 7...place your dough ball in a greased pan or bowl and cover. Spray the top of your ball of dough with a little Pam or grease. Let it rest until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours depending on the room temp.
step 8...When doubled in size, punch down with your fist and pinch off golf-ball size pieces, smooth with a little grease in the palm of your hand and place in a greased pan...the rolls should barely touch each other...give them a little space.
step 9...let your rolls rise about 1-2 hours till they have again doubled in size.
step 10..Bake in a pre-heated 350 oven for 20 min or so till they are nice and brown on top...brush with butter and return to oven to fully brown and enjoy with lots of butter and jelly or jam...yummy...
step 11..Pat yourself on the back and prepare to receive many compliments for something that looks hard, tastes good, but is really really easy.