I have been trying several different things since buying a bread
machine for $5 from craiglist. I’ve been making bread several times a
week since then, it was definately worth the $5. With three little
boys I just don’t have the time or energy to mix and knead the dough by hand. I’ve tried several different things. I’m posting what I have
found works for me.
First I start off with a prefermenter. I had never heard about this until last week when I ran across it on a website I was looking at. I think it improves the taste of the bread.
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup warm water
Cover and leave for at least 8 hours. I think the longer it sits
the better. The longest I’ve done it so far is 24 hours and it was the
best of all the ones I’ve made so far.
Then I put the following ingredients in my bread machine, following the order in the instruction booklet. The only expection is that I put the yeast mixture in last. Here are the ingredients:
3-3 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 – 1/3 cup sugar
4 1/2 tsp oil
3/4 cup water
Originally I would add enough flour so that the dough wasn’t sticky. However I have found that leaving the dough a little sticky actually turns out a better loaf. Now I just add enough flour so that the dough isn’t sticking to the bowl but still sticks to my fingers if I touch it.
I don’t really like how dark the crust is on the bread when using my
bread maker. So I just run it on the dough/rising cycle. I then take
it out and shape it then put it in a pan for one last rise. I don’t
have bread pans. I line a 9×13 pan with foil. I then spray it with
cooking spray. I put the shaped dough in and spray it again with the
cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap. I then let the dough rise
until it is about double in size. I bake the dough in a 350 degree
preheated oven. I don’t have a set time, I just keep an eye on the
color of the crust. I prefer a lighter color, soft crust. My mother
always did to keep the crust soft was to spread a little butter on the
top. Most of the time I do this as well, I prefer a softer crust. The
warmer the bread the more difficult it is to slice. Once the bread has
completely cooled off I store it in a large storage bag, provided it
lasts that long.