I want to make bread
As the title says, I have an urge to make bread. However, for some reason it sounds quite intimidating to me.
I have a family of 5 (10 year old, 8 year old, and an 11 month old) so i want something not very time consuming.
I'd like to start with a basic white bread since grilled cheese and lunch meat sandwiches will be our main usage.
one other thing, I don't have a stand mixer, bread machine, coal, brick or wood oven or anything of that sort, so keep that in mind.
Now where do I start???
I'm sure you'll get far more informed advice than this, but it's a place to start.
I'm an on-again/off-again home bread baker and some resources I can suggest are:
1) www.bakerscatalog.com - The nice folks at King Arthur have lots of gadgets and other resources.
2) The Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day recipe is fairly loose and can be worked without the stand mixer. Not sure how it will translate into the loaf-pan type bread you're seeking. I may have to try it myself! The recipe is all over the internet. Please Google "artisan bread in five minutes" and you'll have an abundance of resources including a YouTube video.
3) A copy of "The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread" by Peter Reinhart. He does a FANTASTIC job of describing the chemistry that goes into baking bread. With this info in-hand, you can problem-solve issues rather than getting frustrated and abandoning your desire to bake!
One resource I overlooked!
4) Santa Claus - Ask for a stand mixer for Christmas! Clear space on your counter for it (don't hide it in a closet) and you'll find you're using it constantly. I'm partial to the KitchenAid bowl-lift model I have. However, search within CH for "stand mixer" and you'll get an abundance of fantastic opinions.
Ask for it for THANKSGIVING and your kids will be singing your praises for all the quick and easy brownies/blondies/cookies/cakes you churn out with that mechanized wonder!
What a wonderful gift for your family to make them homemade bread! Please don't be intimidated. If a loaf doesn't turn out quite as planned, call it "rustic" and serve it anyhow. ;-D
I think the biggest mistake you're likely to make is adding too much flour, especially during kneading. If you know a good bread baker who can show you the process once, it will be very helpful.
My best hint is to always use a kitchen scale. That will help you get the proper amount of flour, and every loaf will turn out the same.
And do take a look at this website:
The white bread recipe on the King Arthur bread flour bag is quite good. I have the artisan bread in 5 minutes a day, and I've had great success with it for everything EXCEPT loaves in a loaf pan......otherwise it's a miracle. I also have the bread bakers apprentice. It's a little much for a novice. most loaves take if not several days, then an entire one.....for your first loaf make it a foolproof easy two one hour rise dough.....
I have none of the equipment mentioned and no troubles (although I do throw a piece of granite on the bottom rack - a few bricks or flat cinder block will work).
2 things on your list as liabilities are in fact assets - put the 8 and 10 year old to work with the kneading. your back will thank you and they get to be messy in a productive mom or dad time kind of way.
and remind yourself, if the first loaf doesn't work, you really haven't wasted much. most of the time is spent letting it rise and the baking.
There are several websites that I use for recipes. The Fresh Loaf (www. thefreshloaf.com) has quite a few recipes both for people with equipment and without. A new one I came across is ccokingbread.com. I also have the Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking book, which has a lot of great recipes.
Since grilled cheese and sandwiches are your desired end results, try a French bread called Pan de Mie. Both Julia Child and James Beard have similar recipes for this excellent white bread. It will be more difficult to make without a standmixer, but the results will be worth it.
The recipes call for a special pullman pan, but you can use regular loaf pans covered with oiled foild. Then place a cookie sheet on top of weighted down by a a heavy oven proof skillet or bricks. The result is a close-rectangular sandwich bread that slices beautifully and improves on the second day.
This bread is a staple in our house for day after Thanksgiving sandwiches.
Yeasted bread still intimidates me so I just make a variety of breads which need no yeast. No need for rising time so quick and only require bowl, measuring cups and spoons, spatula, bread pans, oven (and a spice grinder since I make my own gf flours). Most of what I make are breakfast breads but there are some recipes for sandwich suitable breads.