Country White Bread
“If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.” –Robert Browning
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… I LOVE BREAD! Any bread… I’ll devour a slice… or two… or three. Sour dough has always been on the top of my list as a favorite. I attempted a few times, making homemade sour dough. I was successful for only a couple loafs…until I let the dreaded starter die (aka The B****). I think my failure in keeping the starter alive was a combination of improper storage and a temperature I couldn’t regulate. I’m sure it’s not as challenging as I make it out to be but it took more than I could figure out at the time.
I decided to move on to something with less management and this brings me to Country White Bread. I explored the interwebs looking for good bread sites providing simple tips for bread newbies like me… but also photos… a lot of good photos to see what I’m up against. I found www.thekneadforbread.com which lead to their host site and the following recipe provided by www.cookingbread.com.
It seemed easy enough. We needed a basic bread around the house that would suffice for morning toast and lunchtime sandwiches. The prep was not difficult but with anything homemade, time is always a factor. After mixing the basic ingredients there is a 15 minute resting period. After the major mixing is complete the dough must rest for another hour or longer until it doubles in size. After degassing the bread and fitting it to 2 loaf pans you must wait another 45-60 minutes to let it rise again. Then it’s time to bake… difficult, no… time consuming, a little.
Why do I make my own bread… to save money and to know where and what the ingredients are that I am feeding my family.
We’ll get back to sour dough very soon… with wild yeast possibly… but until then… Here is my take on the Country White Bread recipe.
* = organic
^ = local
Country White Bread
2 -5×9 loaf pans, 375 (f) degrees for 30-35 minutes
5 – 6 cups bread flour * (you may not use all the flour)
1 cup lukewarm water *
1 cup buttermilk * (room temp)
1/4 cup melted tallow *^ (you can sub olive oil or butter… I can’t recommend using other oils)
2 eggs *^ (room temp)
1/4 cup raw local honey ^
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons flax seed meal *
3 teaspoons instant yeast
1 egg white *^
3 tablespoons cream *^
Step 1: In a mixing bowl measure out 1 1/2 cups of flour and with a wooden spoon stir in the water and buttermilk. Next mix in melted tallow, honey, eggs, salt, flax seed meal, and yeast. Mix till all ingredients are incorporated and then set aside covered in a warm area for 15 minutes.
Step 2: After resting, incorporate a 1/2 cup of flour at a time till it’s too hard to mix with the spoon. On a clean flat work surface add 1/2 cup flour and pour out the dough onto the surface. Knead the flour into the dough till the dough is no longer sticky.
Steo 3: [NOTE] I used only 5 cups of the 6 total cups of flour listed in the original recipe. It may take more or less depending on your climate and quality of ingredients [END NOTE]. Place your dough in large lightly oil coated bowl; rotate the dough to make sure all sides are coated. Cover with a towel and set aside in a dry warm place for 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
Step 4: After the resting period, on a lightly floured surface pour out the dough, cut in half and degas the dough by lightly kneading it out. [NOTE] Do not overwork the dough or add too much flour. It will cause the dough to be rubbery & dense. [END NOTE]
Step 5: Shape each ball of dough into a rectangle, fitting the length of a 5×9 loaf pan (NOTE you can omit the loaf pans and place directly on a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet END NOTE). Roll the dough like a jelly roll and pinch the seam closed with your fingers. Place each roll into a greased 5×9 loaf pan. Cover with a towel and rest for another 45-60 minutes or until it’s doubled in size.
Step 7: Now it’s time to bake – place in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 30-35 minutes. When baking is done, remove the loaves from the pans and place on a wire rack to cool. The loaves will feel light and have a hollow sound when done. Enjoy your Country White Bread!