Howdy, folks! This week’s recipe is about honoring the simple things in life. What is more satisfying and comforting to a family more than a homemade loaf of bread? I have a simple, four-ingredient recipe for a loaf of bread that could be found on a table generations ago, yet is just as delicious and useful today.
Proof the Yeast
If you’ve never baked bread before, this is a perfect recipe to start with. It’s simple, and you will learn the basics about how to accurately use yeast. To start, you want warm water. By warm, I mean 75-90 degrees F. Add one packet of rapid rise yeast and stir.
To activate the yeast, warm water is necessary but not enough by itself. To wake the yeast up and get it moving, add sugar. The yeast will begin to feed on the sugar, and bubbles will begin to rise to the top of the water. Once the water is bubbly, the yeast is active. This is called “proofing” the yeast.
Tip: Always check the expiration date on yeast before use.
Once the yeast is proofed, add the salt and eggs. Mix well.
Bread always turns out better when you are using good flour. If you are making bread regularly – and this recipe is so simple you ought to be – go on and buy yourself a good bread flour.
Once you have the right type of flour, you need to measure it correctly. Do not pack the flour into the measuring cup and fit as much as you can in there. Most of the world measures their flour by weight. We Americans have always measured by volume. When using flour, it’s important to gently scoop the flour into the measuring cup without packing it down at all. Level the flour off of the top instead of shaking the cup back and forth.
Tip: Do not pack the flour into the measuring cup. Gently scoop the flour in and let it settle naturally.
Always start with the minimum amount of flour the recipe calls for. You can always add more flour in later, but if you add too much to begin with, you will have very dense bread. If you pack the flour in to the measuring cup and fit as much as you can in there, you’re going to have very dense bread. Listen to the Cowboy and you will be alright.
Optional: Add some onion powder and garlic powder for extra flavor in your sandwich bread.
Mix the Dough
Bread dough will be too thick for a whisk. Grab you a wooden spoon or spatula and fold the flour mixture into the yeast mixture until well combined. As I mentioned before, start with the smallest amount of flour the recipe calls for and add more as needed. You will continue to mix flour in until you have a shaggy dough.
Once the dough reaches the desired consistency, dump it out on a floured surface. There may still be some spots of the dough that are a little too moist, but that’s ok – go ahead and knead for five minutes. This is a great chore to give to any nearby kids!
Let the Dough Rise
We are going to let the dough rise in the mixing bowl we’ve already used. I like to use as few dishes as possible because I want to clean as few dishes as possible and I reckon y’all do, as well. Spray the bowl with cooking spray before you put the dough inside it to rise. Cover with a tea towel and let rest in a warm spot for about 40 minutes.
Tip: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees for three minutes. This makes a cozy place for your dough to rise.
When the dough has doubled in size, it is ready to punch down and form into a loaf.
Spray the inside of the loaf pan with cooking spray. Place the bread into the loaf pan. Cut a slice through the center of the bread along the length of the loaf and create a 1/2″ trench in the dough. Pour the melted butter in the trench and let sit for another 30 minutes. Cover with a tea towel.
Prepare to Bake
After 30 minutes, the butter will be soaked into the bread and the bread is ready to bake. Inside the house, bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes until the bread is golden brown.
If you’re outside, get a deep 14″ Dutch oven, and coat the bottom with oil. Place the loaf pan right inside the Dutch oven. Place on a trivet and surround the oven with hot hardwood lump coals. Leave room in the center for heat to circulate. Place coals on the lid.
Tip: To ensure even heating, rotate the Dutch oven one way and the lid the other way every 15 minutes or so.
Fresh, Warm, Homemade Bread
Once the bread is golden brown, let cool on wire rack for about five minutes or so. Remove the bread to the wire rack. Slice with a serrated knife and serve. For sandwiches, wrap the loaf of bread in a tea towel and slice when you’re hungry. I never make it that far. Who can just let fresh bread sit there without eating it warm?
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Homemade Bread – Cowboy Kent Rollins
- 1 ½ cups warm water
- 1 package rapid rise yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 eggs
- 3 ½ to 4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
Combine the water, yeast, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Mix well and let sit for about 2 to 3 minutes.
After the yeast mixture begins to bubble, add the salt and the eggs and mix until smooth.
In a separate mixing bowl add the flour, onion powder, and garlic powder. Mix well.
Gradually add the flour in to the yeast mixture, one cup at a time, and mix.
Aim for the dough to be more moist than dry. Fold in the flour with a spoon until a shaggy dough is made.
Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for five minutes.
Place the dough back in the mixing bowl and cover with a towel.
Set to rise in a warm place for about an hour.
Tip: you can pre heat oven to 300 degrees F for 3 minutes then turn off and place bread in to rise.
After the dough is risen, punch it down and dump out onto a floured surface. Form into a rectangle and place the dough into a greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.
Form the dough to fit the pan, and take a table knife and make a slice down the middle of the dough. With the edge of the knife, make a trough about 1/2 inch wide.
Pour the melted butter in the trough and let the dough rise for another 30 to 40 minutes.
Optional: Sprinkle with onion powder, and/or garlic powder.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes in a preheated 350 degree F. oven.
Remove from the oven when golden brown. Place on a wire rack and let cool for about 5 to 10 minutes. Dump the bread out onto the rack.
Slice with a serrated knife and serve, or let the bread cool completely and wrap in a tea towel. Slice as needed for sandwich bread.