Beautiful Basic White Bread

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Last week I saw a beautiful post from King Arthur Flour about braided rolls. The pictures were stunning, and I really wanted to make something that was lovely like that. Making bread is a little bit of science and love and art, all wrapped into one. I think that’s why I am so crazy for it.

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Okay, so ours didn’t come out looking quite the same as the King Arthur ones, but they were still very beautiful, and SO delicious! I had Millie helping me in the kitchen, which made it that much more fun. In fact, she did most of the work!

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Aside from the King Arthur post about the braided rolls, there was also the recommended bread recipe, which is Walter Sands’ Basic White Bread . And there are three videos on YouTube called Bread 101 — basic white bread, on how to make Walter Sands’ recipe that were very helpful and detailed, and slow moving enough for Millie and I to glean much valuable information. We did everything by hand (no mixer), which gave us a better feel for the dough.

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Since we got information from so many different sources (all King Arthur), I thought it might be helpful to have all of it in one place, and share it with you, since it was not only fun and easy, it was a great success all around!

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The recipe calls for all-purpose flour, and we were very lucky to have all-purpose flour from our own local flour mill, Cairnspring Mills. They use the very best grains from local farms here in the Pacific Northwest to create some of the tastiest flour around. The specific one we used is the Edison T85 Organic All-Purpose Flour. I am extra excited about this, because this white bread really stands out from the rest, both from the fantastic recipe and all the detailed information from King Arthur Flour, and in no small part due to the specialty flour. Of course, King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour is a great flour to use as well, since, well, this recipe was created with King Arthur flour in mind! King Arthur has been my go-to favorite flour for years. Either way, you can’t go wrong.

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Walter Sands’ Basic White Bread

(Printed with permission from King Arthur Flour)

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar or honey
  • 1 packet active dry yeast (or 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast or active dry yeast)
  • 1/2 cup Baker’s Special Dry Milk (*see note)
  • 2 Tablespoons soft butter or oil (I used salted butter)
  • 6 cups (1 pound, 11 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  1. Pour the warm water into a mixing bowl. Add and let dissolve the sugar or honey and then the yeast.
  2. When the yeast is has dissolved, add the butter in small pieces, 3 cups of flour, the dry milk, and salt. Mix together.
  3. Add more flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is no longer wet and sticky – it should be tacky, like a post-it note – and starts to come together into a ball. Don’t add too much flour! You will most likely have some flour leftover. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and knead the dough gently for 3 to 4 minutes, until it begins to behave as if it belongs together. Cover and let the dough rest while you clean and grease the mixing bowl.
  4. Continue kneading for 3 or 4 more minutes, until the dough feels smooth and springy. To check for readiness, poke your knuckle into the dough. If it springs back, it is ready! Use up to 1/2 cup of the reserved flour, if necessary, to keep the dough from sticking to the kneading surface.
  5. Place the dough in the greased bowl, turn it over to coat both sides, and cover the bowl. Let it rise in a draft-free place until doubled, 1 to 2 hours (ours took 2 hours). When the dough is ready, divide it in half. Form into loaves (if you choose to make the braided rolls, see below) and place in greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ pans. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until the dough domes no more than an inch above the rim of the pans (ours didn’t get that tall).
  6. After the dough has been rising for 20 minutes, preheat the oven to 350°F. When the loaves are sufficiently risen, bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until nicely browned and the center of the loaves reads 190°F when measured with an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the oven and tip the breads out of their pans. Place on a rack to cool completely before slicing.

For braided rolls:

  1. If you would like to make braided rolls, divide the dough into four pieces. Cover and set aside three of the pieces. Divide one quarter into three pieces. You’ll want to prep each piece before rolling out for best results, and you can find out how to do that here. Now roll each prepped piece out to to a rope that is about twenty inches in length. If the dough starts to shrink back before you reach twenty inches, let the dough rest to relax the gluten, and roll out another piece, then come back to the first one and roll some more.
  2. Pinch one set of ends together and braid the ropes of dough. Pinch ends together when done braiding. Cut into six equal pieces with a sharp knife or bench scraper. Pinch ends and tuck underneath. Place braided rolls on parchment lined baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the dough. You will end up with two dozen small rolls… this will require two baking sheets. Cover rolls with greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about an hour. Halfway through the rise time, preheat your oven to 350°.
  3. When rolls are done rising, bake for about 20 minutes, or until rolls are golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.

*Note: If you do not have powdered milk, you can replace some or all of the water with milk. King Arthur recommends heating the milk to a simmer, and then letting it cool to lukewarm before using.

**Note: We actually made one loaf and twelve rolls, which seemed a little easier at the time.

***Note: I would highly recommend watching the videos (they are short!) and reading the posts that I included links to before taking on this project . They are very informative, and for me, enlightening! Don’t skip the details!

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1 Response to Beautiful Basic White Bread

  1. Pingback: Challah | and everything nice

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