The Easy Way To Make Homemade Bread
If this is the first time you are making yeast breads, follow these easy instructions and you'll soon be a master of the art. First, make sure the yeast is alive and working by "proofing" it. To do this, dissolve yeast and a little of the sugar in very warm water - that is, from 105 to 115. (The first time, use a thermometer to take the temperature of the water, and note how warm it feels on your wrist when it is just right.) The sugar is food for the yeast and encourages the yeast cells to work. After 10 minutes, the yeast will have started to ferment
While the yeast is proofing, sift the flour and measure onto wax paper; place heated milk and/or water, sugar or syrup, salt and butter or shortening called for in recipe in a large bowl; cool. Add proofed yeast to bowl. Stir in 1/3 to 1/2 of the flour, beat with a wooden spoon until dough is smooth; this starts to develop gluten in the flour. Gradually add enough of remaining flour until dough forms a soft ball that no longer clings to side of bowl.
Turn out onto floured surface. With floured hands, pick up far edge and fold toward you; push into the dough, away from you, with heel of one hand; at the same time, give the dough a quarter of a turn by pulling it toward you with your other hand. Repeat folding, pushing and turning this way, adding just enough flour to keep dough from sticking until dough feels satiny smooth and elastic. Place dough in large greased bowl; turn to bring greased side up. Cover bowl and set in a warm, draft-free place (80 degrees) - a cool oven is good. Allow dough to double in bulk (takes 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the warmth of the place). When double,
Turn out onto lightly floured surface; knead a few times; cover with bowl; let stand, to relax dough, 5 to 10 minutes. Divide dough in half; roll, one-half at a time, into a strip 3 times the length of loaf pan; fold into thirds, pinching edges together. Plump loaves and place in buttered loaf pans. Or, for rye bread, keep loaves 5 inches apart on cookie sheet. Cover loaves and let them rise as above until double in bulk.