I would offer my humble opinion that this is good advice for many things in life- whether choosing a book or a recipe or a coat: go with a classic.
Back in college, a good friend of mine commented on how she loved the smell of freshly baked bread because it reminded her of her father, who made the family’s bread every Saturday morning. That image has inspired me for years… and I have a great desire to give that same sort of memory to my kids.
A few years ago, my darling husband bought me a really top-notch dream gift: a Kitchen-Aid mixer. When I saw the bread dough blade that came in the box, that past conversation came to mind and I began trying out recipes to make bread so that I, too, could become the family bread baker.
That was a few years ago.
I’ve tried, really, I have. Somehow, my husband and kids have just never been very satisfied with any of the loafs I have turned out. I have searched the internet and cookbooks, trying out variations on a theme: the basic white loaf. I’ve tested out different flours, differents yeasts. How frustrating to seemingly (honestly, I never found anything wrong with the bread) not be able to bake a decent loaf of bread for my family! I really almost gave up on it until the ladies at Farm Chick Chit Chat decided to do a bread bake-off. That gave me new inspiration to try again. I began searching again for a recipe that would make just a simple, fluffy, moist white loaf…. and I found it. A classic recipe from Julia Child. I should have just started there to begin with. I found the recipe posted on food. com and you can see it here: http://www.food.com/recipe/Julia-Childs-White-Bread-9032
The ingredients are simple:
- 2 1/2 cups water (105-115 F)
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 7 cups bread flour or 7 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/4-1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
This recipe made 2 really nice, fluffy loaves of basic white bread. I think the butter is what made the difference here, none of the other recipes I have ever made ever called for butter. Also, adding the sugar to the yeast and water to mix and letting it rest was different. Usually, I add the sugar later in the recipe. The final result: a very tasty bread that my family truly LOVED. It sliced nicely for making toast (which we then SMOTHERED in butter and homemade strawberry jam).