Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Honey White Bread

(All photos courtesy of Sonja, from Simply Sonja Photography based in Bellevue, WA)

 This was the bread that started it all - the bread that was so delicious, my husband let me stop buying bread at the store. Wait...that sounds weird. Let me put it this way: I may be the cook in the family, but it's not fair of me to replace tasty bread from the store with nasty bread from home if nobody likes it.

Here is one of my most basic recipes, in pictures.

So, I experimented and tried new recipes until I found one that could surpass store-bought in quality and taste AND was less than half the cost of store-bought. (One loaf of this bread, even with olive oil and honey, is about $.75 if you buy the ingredients in bulk.)

I make the bread four loaves at a time, using my ancient Bosch mixer. The bread freezes beautifully, and is almost better from the freezer! It retains its moisture, and has a very smooth crumb.

Still too sticky. You want the dough to just barely stick to your fingers, but not climb to you and make a mess.

LoLo's Honey White Bread
Yield 2 Loaves

2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp. yeast
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tsp. salt
6-7 cups All-Purpose Flour

In the bowl of your mixer, add water, yeast, honey, olive oil and 6 cups of flour. (If you are concerned that your yeast might be old, you may proof it first: Combine water, yeast and honey in your bowl. Wait for it to foam, about 5 minutes, then add oil, salt and flour.) Mix with dough hook and add more flour as necessary, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball. Knead for 5 more minutes, and then turn off your mixer.

Remove the dough from the bowl, remove the dough hook, spray the bowl with cooking spray, and return your ball of dough to your greased bowl. Turn the dough to coat with oil, and cover with a damp towel. (I like to wash my hands at this point, grab a fresh tea towel to dry them off with without shaking the water off my hands, and use that to cover up the dough. It seems just damp enough.) Allow the dough to rise until about doubled in volume. It's ready when you poke it with two fingers and it easily holds the indent.

When the dough has risen, remove from bowl, divide in half, and *form into two loaves. Place in greased loaf pans and allow to rise for 30-45 minutes, or until approximately 50% larger. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

Don't be afraid to play around with mix-ins! Dried fruit, spices, orange juice in place of part or all of the water. This is a really forgiving framework to work with. This is also the recipe I use for dinner rolls and cinnamon rolls - 1 loaf makes 12 dinner rolls or 12 cinnamon rolls.

*To see how I form my loaves, go here: How I Form Bread Loaves

For the rest of this bread course, go here: LoLo's Bread Class