Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Amish White Bread

*Small vent to start: It has been so hard to get decent pictures lately, with good light, because it's been so dang rainy and icky so far this summer! I just checked one of the local news sites and it says we've had rain 20 out of the last 30 days. Gross. Vent over.*

Back in the winter I started trying some sandwich bread recipes - I figured the more things I could make at home instead of buying, the better. However, I started off with not much success. I didn't know if it was the recipes I was trying or my technique, but the bread always seemed too stiff and heavy. A few months back though, my mom told me about this recipe she found called Amish White Bread. She said it was very soft and tasted really good. The first time I tried it, Shaun and I were hooked! And it's so easy. The new stand mixer helps, but it really wasn't too difficult to make it by hand either. So, every couple weeks I just make a couple of loaves, slice them, freeze them, and we're set for lunches.

Amish White Bread (Source: Allrecipes)

2 cups warm water (recipe says 110 degrees F - I just guess though)
2/3 cup white sugar (many of the reviews recommend cutting down on the sugar...I usually use close to 1/2 cup)
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 cups bread flour

1. In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm water, and then stir in yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam.
2. Mix salt and oil into the yeast. Mix in flour one cup at a time. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth (or use dough hook on stand mixer). Place in a well oiled bowl, and turn dough to coat. Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
3. Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half. Shape into loaves, and place into two well oiled 9x5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until dough has risen 1 inch above pans.
4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.

I let the loaves cool in the pans for 10 minutes or so and then dump them out onto a cooling rack. I made the mistake of leaving them in the pans too long once and ended up with some sweaty bread (it was fine after some drying time though). I also let the bread cool completely before slicing since I've had better luck that way, but sometimes it's just too tempting to dig into the warm bread.

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