I have a bread machine that I have used for 5 or so years. It’s great, but about two years ago I decided it wasn’t good enough, so I have been using the recipes from that book to hand-make my bread.
It’s been lots of fun. I have discovered that I really love kneading dough, and nothing is better than the smell of fresh baked bread (okay, okay, so I already knew that part).
I have only played with the white bread and potato bread recipes so far, but the potato bread is by far my favorite. I am still working to perfect it, and when I finally get a pizza stone I might actually get the perfect balance of crispy crust and soft moist inside that I want but until then, I will continue to play until I get what I am looking for.
I have two new recipes I found, but as I do not have all the ingredients I need at the moment (i.e. fresh potatoes and enough flour), and I am craving the smell and taste of fresh bread, I decided to continue to work on this old one and just tweak it with tips I found online and some of the tricks used in the other recipes I mentioned.
This still isn’t what I am looking for, but it’s getting much closer
1 package yeast
3 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablesppons instant mashed potato flakes
1 1/2 cups warm milk
1. Preheat oven at 450F
note: we’ll turn it down later but you will want it this hot to start.
2. pour a little bit of the milk in a large bowl then add yeast and wait until completely disolved (milk should be approximately 70 – 75F).
3. Add the rest of the milk, salt, sugar and butter and stir until completely disolved.
4. Add in the flour and potato flakes heaping spoonfuls at at time, mixing completely before adding more. Mix until smooth and elastic. Once you get to the last of the flour you might need to dump out onto a cutting board to mix completely.
note: keep the dough as moist as possible. The more moist the dough is, the softer it will come out. If it gets a little too sticky to handle, add a little more flour. If it’s dry, add a little warm milk and continue mixing. (you can do the same if needed while kneading)
5. Knead the dough for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, folding dough in half, pushing down and away from you the rotating a quarter turn. Continue the process, working the dough till it’s nice and elastic.
6. Cut off approximately 1/3 of the dough, then flatten the rest as best as possible. Fold the flattened dough lengthwise in thirds like a letter, then place in a well greased loaf pan. Cover with a clean, dry cloth and put somewhere warm and dark to rise.
7. Cut the remaining dough into 3 or 4 rolls and place on a greased cookie sheet. Cover and keep in a warm dark place to rise.
note: If you prefer to knead your dough a second time you do not have to put in the loaf pan yet. I don’t beat down my dough and let it rise a second time, but that’s up to you.
8. Once dough has approximately doubled in size, lightly flour the tops then cut two slits into the top.
9. Place loaf pan in the oven, then throw a few ice cubes in the bottom of the oven, closing the door quickly to capture the steam.
10. After about 5-10 minutes, turn oven down to 350F and let cook for an additional 20-25 minutes.
11. Once dough is begining to brown prop oven door open slightly to let the remaining steam out and cook for approximately 10 more minutes, or until it is nicely browned.
12. Let cool in the loaf pan for approximately 10 minutes.
At this point you can dump it out of the loaf pan and either cut up and eat it warm (yum!), or cover with a clean, dry dish towel and let cool completely.
Repeat steps 9-12 for rolls.