There’s nothing quite satisfying as making a fresh loaf of bread. The smells that permeate the house and the feeling of accomplishment are incomparable..and the taste, oh my goodness! My kids and I usually gobble up an entire loaf as soon as it comes out of the oven, that’s how good it is! Homemade bread is also more nutritious compared to store bought bread that contains preservatives and chemical dough conditioners. It’s also very economical to make your own bread!
I always hesitated from making any yeast-based recipes because it seemed so complicated, but once I tried it, it wasn’t so bad! It’s like a science experiment that produces a flavorful result. I’ve made my own pretzels, bagels, sandwich breads, buns, cinnamon buns since I started my foray into the bread making world. Today, I’ll show you how to make a simple rosemary loaf bread.
– 1 tbsp. pure cane sugar
– 1 cup warm water
– 1 (.25 ounce) package dry active yeast
– 1 tsp. salt
– 2 tbsp. butter, softened
– 2 tbsp rosemary, chopped
– 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
– 2.5-3 cups bread flour
– 1 tbsp. olive oil
In a medium bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm water. The temperature of the water should be equivalent to a hot bath. I highly recommend using a meat thermometer to make sure the temperature of the water is around 105-110 degrees. Mix in the yeast.
To the yeast mixture, add in the salt, butter, 1 tbsp. rosemary, and Italian seasoning. Mix in 2 cups of bread flour with a spoon or spatula. It will slowly start to come together, but look very sticky. Add in the rest of the flour in half cup intervals. Be careful here – only add enough flour so that it forms a workable dough. Start to knead the dough with your fingers. If the dough is still too sticky, add a little bit more flour. Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes until it feels nice and supple (or as soft as a baby’s bottom ;). Since I have a stand mixer, I threw my dough in there and it did all the work for me.
Take your soft dough and place it in an oiled bowl. Roll the dough around so all surfaces are coated with oil. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and place in a warm location for about an hour. I placed my dough in my oven with the oven light on. It provides just enough heat to allow the dough to rise. This stage is known as the “first rise”.
Take the dough out of the bowl and lightly punch it down. Shape into a loaf and place on a tray covered with lightly greased parchment paper. I made two loaves (I added chopped olives to one loaf). Cover again loosely with plastic wrap and place the tray back in the warm location for about an hour. The dough should double in size. This stage is known as the “second rise”.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush the top of the bread with olive oil and sprinkle remaining rosemary on top. Bake 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown. Enjoy the smell as it bakes!
Important Bread Making Tips:
Water – should be equivalent to hot bath water. I highly recommend using a thermometer to make sure the temperature of the water is at around 110 degrees.
Yeast – I normally use dry active yeast. If you notice your yeast didn’t get foamy when you add it to the sugar-water mixture, then your yeast may have gone bad or your water wasn’t warm enough. Always have several packets of yeast on hand! I have tried many brands of yeast and this one is my favorite (available at Whole Foods):
Flour – make sure to use a high quality bread flour. Bread flour really adds better texture to your loaf of bread so I highly recommend purchasing it over all-purpose flour. I love King Arthur’s bread flour (available Target or Whole Foods):
Kneading and the Two Rises – Kneading is probably the most important step in making a good bread. If you don’t knead enough, your bread won’t be as moist. When I first started making bread, I used to watch YouTube videos to know how much to knead the dough. Having a stand mixer makes the kneading step easier, but it’s not necessary. Think of how our grandparents did it in the olden days!
Patience is a virtue in making bread. Do not be in a rush to shorten the rise time. Set a timer and come back to the bread to check to see if it doubled in size. The second rise is equally important as the first so do not skip it!