Nothing smells better than hot bread fresh from an oven. Growing up in Trinidad, we lived next to a commercial bakery and had a small shop selling delicious pastries out front. The smell of yeast, heat and flour to this day is one of my favorite smells. Many Trinidadians made their own bread to save a little, rather than buying it from a store. Particularly, around Christmas time – it is very traditional to bake a ham and make bread. It is so delicious and nothing rings in the holiday better than that for me. Years later, I have taken pride in the fact that I have learned and continued on in that tradition.
This recipe isn’t fancy, it’s practical, easy and fast. It is one of my go to because it is versatile. Feel like whole wheat? Substitute whole wheat flour, add nuts, oats or dried fruit. Sometimes, I just make a plain white bread but these days I try to make healthier food choices where I can.
Basic Bread Recipe
- 6 cups of flour
- 2 cups of milk
- 3 tbsp of butter
- 1 egg (optional)
- 1 and 1/2 packs of yeast (regular or rapid rise yeast*)
- 2 tsp of salt
- 3 tbsp of sugar (I like brown or even honey)
In a large mixing bowl, sift together your dry ingredients (flour, salt and rapid rise yeast*) you can only use yeast this way if it is rapid rising. Once your dry ingredients are incorporated in a small sauce pan warm the milk, butter and sugar/honey over a low fire. Once the butter is melted, sprinkle your regular yeast into your wet ingredients. Be careful not to let the milk boil or get too hot, otherwise you will kill the yeast and your bread will not rise correctly. The sugar also gives the yeast something to feed on and will allow it to bloom nicely.
Next, with a stand mixer, a hand mixer or by hand slowly add your wet ingredients to your dry. After you put about half the wet ingredients add your egg if you choose to do so. Sometimes due to humidity or the type of flour used, it will take less or more liquid than indicated above. What you are trying to achieve is a ball of flour that will not stick to the sides of your bowl. It should not be tough or hard, but soft and slightly sticky. It should take about 8mins of kneading to bring this dough together and to establish the right consistency for a good bread. If it’s too sticky add a little flour, too dry a little warm milk.
Place your ball of dough in a floured or greased bowl with a damp (nice catch Jenna 🙂 ) paper towel over top and allow to double in size. Make sure to place your bowl in a warm place, I usually use the stovetop of my pre-heated 375 degree oven. Once doubled in size, punch the dough down lightly, cut into two even parts and place into two greased bread baking pans. Again, cover with a warm damp paper towel and allow to raise a second time. Then bake in a 375 degree oven for 30-35 mins, you can dip the damp paper towel in a little milk and brush the top of the bread lightly to get a golden brown crust. Once the bread is out of the oven, remove it from it’s baking pans otherwise your hot bread will sweat, get soggy and ruin that delicious crust. Enjoy!
Try some variations and let us know what creative breads you come up with, I am thinking about making a 7 grain and 7 nut bread next. But, nothing is better than hot bread out of the oven with some creamy butter or slices of ham.