Cooking Tips and Advice - Print - Basic Bread - White Bread

Basic Bread - White Bread - Cooking Tips

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Bread Making Demonstration:
Basic Bread

Basic White Loaf

A standard white loaf leavened with the direct of straight yeast method is one of the easiest of the basic breads to prepare. For the inexperienced home cook, preparing basic white bread is a good way to gain confidence in bread making.

Begin by blending 2 teaspoons of active dry yeast into a half cup of warm water (95º to 115ºF). Allow it to sit for 5 or 6 minutes or until the yeast begins to bubble and foam.
On a flat work surface, combine 3½ cups bread flour or all-purpose flour and 1½ teaspoons of salt. After mixing, create a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
Pour the yeast liquid into the center of the well.
Slowly stir the liquid, picking up some of the flour from the inside walls of the well.
Continue drawing in flour until a paste forms. Then add water in small increments and continue drawing in the flour. No more than one cup of water should be necessary.
When about a third of the flour remains on the sides of the well, pull the remaining flour into the center and quickly incorporate it into the dough. Add small quantities of water to the dough if it is too dry.
Begin the kneading process by folding the dough in half.
Using the heel of your hand, press firmly on the dough while pushing the dough away from you. Excessive force is not necessary because the dough will gradually become easier to work the longer it is kneaded, which warms and stretches the gluten.
Fold the dough back towards you and repeat the kneading process. Turn the dough a little each time as you continue to knead it. If the dough is sticky, sprinkle it with a small quantity of flour during the kneading process. A pastry scraper can be used to remove any pieces of dough that may stick to the work surface while kneading.
Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic, which usually occurs in about 10 minutes.
Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with a damp kitchen towel or a oiled plastic wrap, and allow it to rest for 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
Punch down the dough and allow it to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
If baking the bread in a greased loaf pan, place the dough on a floured surface, and shape the dough in a size that will fit the greased pan.
If baking the bread on a baking sheet, place the dough directly on the greased sheet and shape it into a round or rectangular form.
Proof the dough until it is about double in size, which requires 30 to 45 minutes.

Bake in a preheated, 425ºF oven for 40 to 45 minutes. Check the bread for doneness by tapping on the bottom: A hollow sound indicates that the bread is done, while a dull sound indicates an underdone loaf.

Remove the bread from the loaf pan or baking sheet and cool on a wire rack to prevent the bottom from becoming soggy.