Fresh baked bread, is there any smell more wonderful? After living in Austria for a summer, I've never been able to go back to processed sandwich bread. On the street I lived, there was a bakery and a brewery. I was certainly never short on carbs. Every night before bed, I would open my window and snuggle under my duvet sans sheets. Top sheets weren't chic, and it was atypical to have A/C so everyone slept with their widows open. The cool mountain air and singing crickets would lull you to sleep only to shortly be awoken by the 5:30 morning sun. But, the shining sun never woke me up or the chirping birds; it was always the smell of the bakery pulling warm, crusty loaves out of the oven.
As you can imagine, I'd roll out of bed with insane cravings. Thankfully we always had plenty of loaves on hand for sandwiches or toast. It really amazes me, how bread, a basic form of food, a food symbolic for life, has become so over processed and sugar laden. I challenge you to read the label of your sandwich bread. I've recently become aware of how much sugar is in processed foods, it's mind boggling.
Here's the good news, awesome bread isn't that expensive. Even better news, it's so easy to make!
I'm very fortunate that the grocery store six blocks from my house has a bulk bin full of rolls perfect for sandwiches. I put mine in the freezer to keep them from drying out, and use them as needed. But, sometimes you're just stuck with yesterday's stale loaves.
Thankfully I have this recipe on hand. It's so easy, I know you don't believe me... but try it!
You can use a stand mixer or do it by hand. You'll need to preheat your oven to 400.
1/2 Cup of Water
3/4 Cup of Milk (I've used goat and soy)
1 Cup of Wheat Flour
3 Cups of All Purpose Flour
1 Tablespoon of Salt, Sugar, Yeast
5 Tablespoons of Melted Butter
In a large mixing bowl combing both flours and the salt. In a separate microwave safe bowl combine the water, milk, and sugar. Microwave for 30 seconds. The mixture should be warm, but not hot. Add the yeast and let proof. This can take anywhere from one to five minutes. When it's done it should look foamy.
Add the foamy mixture and four tablespoons of the melted butter into the dry ingredients. If you're using a stand mixer, be careful not to over knead. The dough comes together quickly. It should take less than two minutes. Once the dough has pulled away from the bowl it's done. As you work the water and flour, you're creating gluten. If there's too much gluten your bread will be hard and brick like.
If you're doing this by hand, the mixture should no longer be sticky. It should hold it's shape nicely on it's own. Place the dough inside of a greased bread pan. I use leftover butter wrappers that are compostable. You could also make your own spray with water and oil. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let it rest in a cozy, room temperature spot for an hour.
Then you're going to want to slather it with the remaining melted butter, pop it in the oven for 30 - 40 minutes, wait till it's a nice golden brown, let it cool, and try not to devour it all by yourself. It's great with pretty much everything, but I prefer it with pasta, wine, and friends.