March 5, 2015

Yeast Bread

One of the things I didn't realize I would miss about eating at home is the fresh bread. It's pretty hard to convince my friends to go to a restaurant nice enough to serve bread with the meal (someone please tell Five Guys to start), and dining hall bread just won't cut it. It's been hard enough publishing all these chili recipes without being able to eat them for a few weeks, but what I really want is something to sop it up with. This yeast bread is a little bit sweet and a little bit dense, which makes it perfect for soaking up the last bits of savory, spicy chili.

Like many breads, this one is pretty simple; it only has 6 ingredients (5 if you don't count the salt). Perhaps the most important is the yeast. It's in the name, after all. You need to activate the yeast in some warm water for about 5 minutes. The little pellet-like things in the packet are actually live organisms. They are dormant and need to become active again to make the bread rise. I add a little bit of sugar to the warm water to help start the process, which is essentially the yeast consuming the sugar and producing carbon dioxide and alcohols. The release of carbon dioxide is what makes bread rise. It's not too hard, just make sure you don't kill the yeast with water that's too hot (it should feel a little bit warm when you pour it in).

The only other way to kill the yeast is by pouring salt on them, which is why you have to be careful with this next step. It's really pretty simple since all you do is add butter, sugar, eggs, and salt, but add the salt last and avoid pouring it directly onto the yeast. Once it's in the dough it's not concentrated enough to harm the yeast.

I'll stop talking about the yeast now. This is a fairly cakey bread (I wouldn't use it for sandwiches), so there's plenty of butter, eggs, and sugar. However, it's still bread, so bread flour is definitely recommended. It has a higher gluten content, making the dough more elastic and providing the bread with more structure. Honestly, you use enough of it in this recipe to justify buying at least a small bag. If you still don't want to buy it, all-purpose flour will work, but it will just be a little more cakey and a little less bready. Once all the ingredients are mixed together, it has to proof (rise) twice, preferably in a warm, draft-free area: once in the bowl and once as loaves. After that, it bakes pretty quickly, and you'll have warm, fresh bread. I'm so jealous.

2 1/4 tsp (1 Packet) Yeast
1 Cup Sugar
1 Stick Butter, Melted
1 1/2 tsp Salt
2 Eggs
7 Cups Bread Flour

Dissolve the yeast in 2 cups warm water. Let stand for a few minutes, then whisk in the sugar, butter, salt, and eggs. Stir in 4 cups flour. Gradually add the remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Flip the dough onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about an hour.

Punch down the dough. Split into two pieces and shape each into a loaf. Place each in a greased loaf pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about an hour.

Heat oven to 350F. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden.

Makes 2 Loaves
Recipe Adapted from

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