"Naturally Great Loaf of Bread"
This recipe comes from the King Arthur Flour Company’s 200th Anniversary Cook Book. It first appeared on their flour bags during the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s. It makes 3 loaves of bread, and the way Mr. Porter suggests that you divide the dough up before you bake it, you wind up with 6 "mini loaves." We really enjoy it. It’s not an "AHAA!" kind of bread; just a good solid white bread that you make yourself, with the ingredients you buy locally.
2 cups warm water
1 (5 1/3 ounce) can of evaporated milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil or shortening
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons or packets of active dry yeast
7 to 8 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon of salt
Combine the water, milk and oil/margarine in a saucepan and heat until lukewarm. Pour into a large mixing bowl and add the sugar, yeast, 2 cups of the flour, and, lastly, the salt.
Beat the mixture for two minutes by hand or with an electric mixer. Using a large spoon, gradually add flour until the dough begins to pull away from the side of the bowl.
Dust a working surface with flour; turn the dough out onto the surface. Flour your hands and begin kneading; work with the dough until it is smooth and springy. Form the dough into a ball and place into a lightly greased bowl. Turn the dough over several times to pick up some of the grease. Cover and let rise for an hour and a half, or until it has doubled in size.
Punch the dough down with your fist to break up any pockets of gas, then divide it into six equal pieces. Form each piece into a round ball and place two of them side-by-side, in each of three greased, 4 ½ by 8 ½ inch bread pans. Cover and let rise for around 25 minutes, or until doubled. Don’t allow it to rise any longer, once it’s doubled, or it will fall during baking.
Fifteen minutes before you want to bake the bread, preheat the oven to 375. Bake all three loaves at once for 30-35 minutes. Immediately remove the loaves from the pans and place on cooling racks. Once they’ve reached room temperature, break them in half, wrap the individual mini loaves tightly in plastic wrap, then in zip lock bags and freeze as many of them as you wish. When it’s time to serve them, the little loaves will thaw in about 2 hours, at room temperature.
Preserving home made bread
1. A 2008 study by Spanish researchers found that cinnamon oil added to wax paper packaging inhibited mold growth on bread by several days. Cinnamon oil may also inhibit the growth of yeast, so if you want to use cinnamon as a bread preservative, be sure not to add it before letting the dough rise. Mix it into the dough in the last step, or add cinnamon powder or baste the bread with cinnamon oil just before baking.
2. Ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, is a great additive to bread for several reasons. Not only is it an essential vitamin, it also improves the rising action of yeast when added to the dough in the initial steps, and it functions as a preservative after bread is cooked. If you can’t find ascorbic acid, which is sold in powdered form in many health food stores, you can substitute a crushed vitamin C tablet.
3. Garlic is another spice with preservative properties. A 2000 study in Denmark found garlic oil, along with clove and cinnamon oil, to be among the most effective bread preservatives. For a stronger preservative effect, use fresh garlic or garlic oil instead of powdered garlic.
4. If you don’t like garlic or cinnamon, don’t despair; those are not your only options. Many spices function as preservatives; in fact, that’s one reason for their popularity in the history of cooking. Ginger, clove oil and mustard oil are among the other flavoring agents that will also work as homemade bread preservatives.
5. Pure honey will never mold, as its sugar concentration is too high to allow enough water for mold to grow. Sadly, the same is not true of bread made with honey, since it must be mixed with water in the dough. However, honey will still keep bread from going stale as fast, because it contains the simple sugars fructose and glucose instead of the sucrose that is used as common table sugar, and these simple sugars attract more water molecules.
6. In addition to preservatives that you add to your bread to keep it fresh, you can use storage techniques that help it last longer. Keep it in a cool place (but not the refrigerator, or it will dry out). Wash your hands well before touching the loaf, and try not to touch any part of the bread but the piece you are going to eat immediately. Avoid letting it touch your counter or other foods in your kitchen. Keep it in a sealed, airtight bag.