In my distant past I became interested in home bread making. For the life of me, I cannot remember when or why this happened. It does not really matter all that much I guess. All that is important now is that making my own bread seems to fill a basic need I have-perhaps hunger.
I bake bread on a schedule based on this premise: I bake when I feel like it. The only exception is made when my wife asks me to bake her favorite bread-with sesame seeds no less. However, her bread is simple and basic. A loaf of bread of this basic kind has four ingredients. They are: flour,yeast,salt,and water. This all you need. Well, a little time and effort perhaps.
I prefer an unbleached all purpose flour over what are known as bread flour because of a lower gluten content. I use filtered water, but good tap water will do. Freeze-dried yeast is works best for me. Salt is salt, but I use kosher salt. I do not use a mixer nor a bread making machine – god forbid! I like to feel the dough come alive as I knead it. During kneading you will find the dough change from a sticky glop to a smooth, elastic, very much alive ball of dough. It is a remarkable thing to experience.
An important step in baking bread is letting the dough rise to twice it’s original volume in a warm, still place. This will take about an hour. During this hour the dough will undergo another change. It will become soft and pliable to the touch. Pressing two fingers into the dough will easily make an impression which will not rebound. It’s ready to make the loaves when this occurs.
The making of the loaves requires the dough be pressed out to a thin rectangle. This allows the dough to be rolled into a long sausage shape and from this the loaves are formed. It is is important the loaves are well sealed. Think of making balloons! Place the loaves into bread pans and let rise again until doubled.
Bake the loaves at 385 deg.F. for about 45 minutes. You will experience the hunger producing smell of the baking bread. It’s time to get the butter and jam and make ready to reap your reward. It’s a reward like no other. Maybe it is time to bake again. I’m getting hungry!