Everyone knows the best bread is the fresh bread. The smell of homemade bread baking in the kitchen alerts every member of the family of the deliciousness that is on its way. Baking bread yourself may be a bit more time consuming than grabbing a loaf off the shelf at the grocery store, but one bite into this warm, soft, fluffy white goodness is all that is needed to validate every minute invested into it. These days, grabbing a loaf off of the shelf is more of a hit or miss anyway, so use this time in history as an excuse to take a crack at making your own. Your family will thank you for it. Growing up in a family that makes homemade jams & jellies for a living, it only makes sense that we would have homemade bread around as well. After all, a thick slice of fresh, soft, fluffy bread makes the best mattress for a sweet, fruity homemade jam to rest on! Fortunately for our family, Mrs Miller's homemade cooking abilities were not relegated to jams alone, and she provided a steady supply of tasty homemade bread. Homemade bread is good for days, but without a doubt, the best time to indulge in this, is right after it comes out of the oven. This is the point where only one slice will never suffice. When taking the first bite of a thick slice of buttered bread, one can be tempted to believe it could not possibly get any better. However, take an additional second and add a spoonful of Mrs Miller's homemade strawberry or black raspberry jam to it, and your senses will very quickly correct that thought. At this point, depending on your calorie counting strategy, you will either have to pump the brakes, or add a clause to your plan that makes a 10 minute exception while foods are super fresh and at their absolute finest.
In other cultures around the world, bread is a major diet staple, making up a large part of daily meals. In our culture, bread is generally perceived as an addition or introduction to a meal, or even just as the cover or holder of the actual protein or main recipe. This may be in part due to the fact that folks in our culture have become accustomed to the boredom and blandness of thin sliced breads in plastic bags, instead of baking them fresh in their own kitchens. When experiencing fresh baked bread, it is easy to see how a family could devour entire loaves in one sitting. The ingredients are relatively simple. Take the time to build your own bread this week. You will feel a sense of pride, your family will thank you, and they most likely won't let you stop!
The photos here are of Mrs Miller's current bounty of homemade bread.
Easy Homemade Bread Recipe
1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
2-1/4 cups warm water (110° to 115°)
3 tablespoons sugar plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
6-1/4 to 6-3/4 cups bread flour
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar in warm water; let stand until bubbles form on surface. Whisk together remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, salt, and 3 cups flour. Stir oil into yeast mixture; pour into flour mixture and beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to form a soft dough.
Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide dough in half. Shape each into a loaf. Place in 2 greased 9x5-in. loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
Bake at 375° until golden brown and bread sounds hollow when tapped or has reached an internal temperature of 200°, 30-35 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.