It's amazing the things that you take for granted. I love homemade bread. I can remember my mom and Nanny Pat making bread when I was a small child. I go to my MIL's home and there is generally always homemade bread there. My dad won a bread maker at one point and he started making his bread that way. My parents gave me a bread maker for our wedding present ions ago and that was my start to making my own bread.
However, soon enough it wasn't enough to have one loaf being made, it was gone as quickly as it baked and homemade bread still tasted better than bread maker bread or boughten bread. (Yes, boughten is a word. It's a colloquial saying from the south shore of Nova Scotia where I grew up. You either had homemade bread or boughten bread [which would be the store bought bread]. In our home, boughten bread is the treat.) I soon went to my MIL to relearn how to make bread.
I have figured out that when I make my own bread it costs around 50 cents a loaf and takes me about 2 and a half hours from start to finish to make it. That's when I don't have any extra little hands helping me. It sure takes a lot of extra time when they do help, but it's also a tad more fun.
Baking bread is one of the easiest ways to save money. It really doesn't take much time, one evening a week while you are watching tv. Really. Think about how much you spend on a loaf of bread, how much a week, a month a year. Then figure out how much you would save if you baked your own bread, about 50 cents a loaf is how much it costs to make it, and see what you are saving in a year. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how much you save and how easy it is to do.
The recipe that I share with you is my MIL's. It makes 3 loaves at a time, I double it for my family so that I only have to make bread once a week. Please remember that when you see the 6 loaves at the end of the post.
3 cups warm water (too hot and your yeast won't rise, warm to your wrist)
3 tbsp yeast
1/3 cup sugar
3 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil
7-8 cups of flour (maybe more, depends on your consistency)
To start with you need a big bowl, water, yeast and sugar.
My bowl is huge because of the 6 loaves I make. It only fits on top of the fridge, it was one of my favourite Christmas presents several years ago. I buy my yeast in the biggest package available and then keep it in the freezer in a resealable bag. It keeps the yeast fresh longer and it's cheaper to buy it this way.
Place water, sugar and yeast in bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. It looks like this when you put it in the bowl:
And like this 10 minutes later:
To this, add your eggs, salt and oil. Yes I said two eggs in the recipe and the picture shows four eggs, but remember, I doubled my recipe. I buy my oil at costco when someone heads over there as it's the cheapest place that I can get a large quantity of it. I also get my white flour there.
Mix together with your mixer:
To this we will add our flour a cup at a time. Mix it with your mixer until it won't handle it any more. Then use your rubber spatula to mix it in. With my kitchen aid, I only have to knead in one cup at the end.
When that won't work it's time for your fists!
Keep adding flour until it gets to your desired consistancy. Then oil your bowl (rub oil all around the inside of your bowl that you are going to let your dough rise in. It can be the same bowl that you mixed the dough in.)
Cover it and place it somewhere warm and draft free to rise. It can be in your oven and you can set it at the lowest temperature and it will rise nicely. I set mine by the wood stove and it rises rather quickly.
Once it has doubled it's height (about 30 mins here), take it back to your spot and punch it down.
You are almost done. If you are not using non stick loaf pans, you need to spray, oil or whatever you do to your bakeware before you put your dough in the pan. At this point you are going to divide your dough into three sections and roll them under so all the rough edges are at the bottom. I apologize, but I don't have a picture of this step as I had to use two hands to do it and had no one else to take the picture.
I hope you are able to understand from the next picture what I mean.
Cover once again and place in that nice spot you had last time.
When it has doubled in size it's ready to bake.
This is what it looks like going into the oven.
30-40 mins later after being baked in an oven at 350 degrees fahrenheit, it looks like this:
I usually rotate my bread about half way through the bake time so that it browns evenly.
You know it's done because all sides are toasty brown and it sounds hollow when you knock on it. Once it cools a bit, remove it from the pans and allow to cool on racks. You can butter the top if you wish. Once cool, bag to keep the moisture in and freeze what you don't use so that it stays fresh.
Now when I was growing up and at my grandmother's, I can remember her serving me fresh hot bread with butter and molasses on it. Have you ever tried it? I am told that it is definitely an east coast thing. If you haven't, I strongly suggest you try it. So good.