Billy's Deluxe White Bread
||9 cups all-purpose flour for bread
1 cup all-purpose flour for breadboard
3 1/2 cups non-chlorinated water (if in doubt, use bottled water)
1/2 cup (8 Tablespoons) margarine (1 stick)
1/3 cup sugar for the bread
1 Tablespoon sugar for the yeast
1 Tablespoon salt
2 Tablespoons (3 packets) active dry yeast (not instant yeast).
Recipe makes three 1 1/2 lb loaves of bread.
1) Pour one cup of non-chlorinated water, heated to 110 degrees F, into a large (13 to 16 diameter) mixing bowl. Add entire quantity of yeast and 1 Tablespoon of sugar. Stir to dissolve and set aside. If you dont know what 110 degrees F feels like, it is lukewarm to the touch, but not hot.
2) Locate a heating pad and put it on a dry area of the kitchen, preferably the kitchen or dining room table, setting temperature to medium. Also locate a piece of plastic or muslin cloth about three feet square and place it next to the heating pad.
3) In a 2 cup or larger container, pour 1 cup of non chlorinated water, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 Tablespoon salt and one stick (8 Tablespoons) margarine, cut into small sections. Heat until butter is melted, then stir to mix ingredients.
4) In a separate container, heat 1 1/2 cups of non chlorinated water to 110 degrees F. This water must be luke warm to the touch, but not hot. Set this water aside for now.
5) Measure 1 cup of flour into a separate bowl, which will be used to flour the breadboard. Set aside for now.
6) Check on the progress of the yeast in the mixing bowl. It should be bubbly and somewhat foamy and should have increased in size. If not, wait 10 minutes to give it some more time. If still not bubbly or foamy, the yeast is dead and you must perform step 1 over again with new yeast.
7) Add 9 cups of flour to the large mixing bowl and pour the butter mixture (step 3) over the flour.
8) Begin to mix the flour mixture with a very heavy wooden spoon until all of the water is absorbed by the flour. This mixture will be dry, so slowly add some of the warm water (step 4) to the mixing bowl a little at a time until it becomes sticky. This means that when you touch the dough ball it sticks to your fingers and to the side of the bowl. If the dough ball is dry, the yeast will not have enough water to dissolve the flour and convert it into carbohydrates and sugars, and the bread will not riseup, a common problem with beginners. It is better that the bread is too sticky (too wet) than non sticky (too dry). Sometime during the mixing process you will want to stop using the wooden spoon and switch to using one hand, the other hand holding and turning the bowl. Dont bother using a mixing machine, such as a Kitchen Aid mixer, as you dont need it as it is more trouble than it is worth.
Hint: your hands should have bread dough stuck to them because the above dough ball is wet and sticky. To remove the dough from your hands, grab some of the breadboard flour (step 5) and rub your hands together over the mixing bowl, allowing this flour dough to fall into the bowl.
9) After the dough has been mixed and is sticky, allow it to rest for 10 minutes while in the bowl. What you are doing here is allowing the dough to absorb the water, which takes some time. No need to cover bowl at this point.
10) Flour a section of a counter top or breadboard, using the flour in step 5, and place dough ball into this floured area. Slowly begin to stretch and fold the dough adding more flour to the breadboard to make the dough less sticky. The key here is to stretch and fold the dough, dont beat it into submission. Simply stretch a section of it and fold it back upon itself. Do this for perhaps 10 minutes making sure that the dough ball does not become too dry. Remember that it must have adequate moisture for the yeast to ferment; better too wet than too dry.
Hint: use this handy dough scraper, in picture 10c, to remove the dough ball from the bowl and to remove dough that is stuck to the breadboard.
11) Clean the mixing bowl in the kitchen sink, wipe it dry and coat the inside of the bowl with some vegetable oil. Put the dough ball in the mixing bowl and move it around absorbing the oil. Turn the dough ball over and coat all sides with the oil. Now place the mixing bowl on the heating pad and cover it with the plastic or muslin cloth.
12) Allow the dough to ferment (rise up) for 60 minutes. This is known as the first rise. Notice the thermometer in the bread.
13) Now remove it from the mixing bowl and put it back on the floured breadboard. Stretch and fold the dough ball about 3 or 4 times, but no more than this. It is a mistake to work the dough any more so dont knead it again. Simply stretch and fold the dough back on itself a few times. Roll it into a ball and put it back into the mixing bowl, turning it several times to recoat it with oil. Place it back on the heating pad covering it with the plastic or cloth.
14) Allow the dough to ferment for another 60 minutes. This is known as the second rise.
15) Remove it from the mixing bowl and put it back on the floured breadboard. Stretch and fold the dough ball about 3 or 4 times, just as in step 13 above. Roll it into a ball and put it back into the mixing bowl, turning it several times to recoat it with oil. Okay to add a little more oil if required.
16) You now have a decision to make: either bake the bread today or bake it tomorrow. If at all possible, bake the bread tomorrow and allow the dough ball to sit in the refrigerator overnight. You will find that the bread tastes better because it has been allowed to ferment longer and slower and contains a better molecular structure. If you decide to bake the bread today, then go to step 18 below. If you want to bake it tomorrow (recommended), then go to step 17 below.
17) If you are going to bake the bread tomorrow, loosely cover the mixing bowl with a piece of plastic wrap and place it into the refrigerator. Remember that the dough will still expand somewhat overnight so you must have adequate room in the bowl to accommodate this expansion. This is known as the refrigerator rise and is probably the most important because it allows the yeast time to form a better, more developed structure. It is this structure that affects the taste of bread and sitting in the refrigerator overnight will contribute to improved taste. Now skip to step 19 below (do not perform step 18).
18) If baking the bread today, place mixing bowl back on the heating pad and cover with the plastic or cloth. Allow the dough to ferment for another 60 minutes. This is known as the third rise.
19) Remove dough ball from the mixing bowl and put it on the floured breadboard. Stretch and fold the dough ball about 3 or 4 times, just like we did above. Roll it into a ball but do not put it back into the mixing bowl. Instead, keep it right on the breadboard, cover it with the plastic or cloth, and allow it to rest for 20 minutes. This is known as the first rest period.
20) Bring into the kitchen a scale that reads up to 4 or 5 lbs. Place a plastic bowl on the scale and note its weight. Determine where the scale marker must go if you were to add 1 1/2 lbs to the plastic bowl. For instance, if the plastic bowl weighs 1/4 lb, then the scale marker must go to the 1 3/4 lb mark if you were to add 1 1/2 lbs of dough to the plastic bowl.
21) Begin to cut the dough ball into pieces and add them to the plastic bowl on the scale. Add 1 1/2 lbs of dough to the plastic bowl. Remove this dough and set it aside. Do this with the remaining dough. If things turned out correctly, you should get 3 dough balls, each being 1 1/2 lbs in size. If there is any left-over dough, cut it into 3 equal sections and add each section to the existing dough balls.
22) Form each dough ball into a round ball and cover with plastic/cloth, letting them rest for 20 minutes. This is known as the second rest period.
23) When the second rest period has finished (step 22), you must now shape each round dough ball into the final bread pan shape so that it fits into the bread pan correctly. Fold and tuck each dough ball into a rectangular shape that fits the bread pan. Then coat the top of each dough ball with a small amount of vegetable oil, olive oil being the best to use here. The purpose of the oil is to prevent the dough from drying out and sticking to the plastic or cloth cover during the final rise. Do this with all 3 dough balls, oiling the tops of each one. Note: if you would like one of the loaves to contain some cinnamon & raisins, proceed as follows: shape one of the loves into an 8"x10" rectangle and sprinkle on 1 teaspoon cinnamon power and 1/3 cup raisins. Starting at the 8" side, roll up the dough into the shape of a loaf of bread.
24) If you are using bread pans that do NOT have a non-stick coating on them, you should add a small amount of oil to the bottom and sides of the pans and then add some flour, shaking it around inside the pans. This helps to prevent the bread loaf from sticking to the sides and bottom of the pan.
25) Put the shaped dough into each of the 3 bread pans and put them on the heating pad, cover with the plastic or cloth, and allow to rise until the top of the bread is perhaps 1 above the top of the bread pan. This usually takes 2 to 4 hours. If the heating pad is not big enough for all 3 loaves, move each loaf on/off the heating pad every 30 minutes or so. If one bread seems to be rising faster than the others, remove it from the heating pad but still keep it covered under the plastic/cloth. By moving the bread pans on or off of the heating pad, you can control the expansion of the dough in each pan. You can optionally use a heating lamp instead of a heating pad - see picture 25.
26) When the bread is ready for the oven, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and SLOWLY place each loaf on the middle rack. If you handle the loaves roughly, they can collapse and ruin the loaf. Set oven timer for 20 minutes and allow to bake. If loaves dont appear to be done, continue baking them for an additional 5 minutes.
27) Remove the bread from the bread pans and place on wire racks to cool. Do not attempt to eat the bread for at least 30 minutes as the bread must cool somewhat and dry out. If you eat the bread right away, it will usually be doughy, so allow it to set for at least 30 minutes.
28) To store unused bread, cut each loaf in half and wrap it in a plastic bag (1 gallon size works best). To reconstitute, put bread into a 300 degree F oven for 10 minutes.