Creating a blog was out of the question for a long time for me, as measuring everything in the kitchen was like biting into an eggshell. I enjoy cooking and don’t want to waste even a slightest bit of enjoyment in that small world of mine. But little did I know that everything will change, when my husband came home with the Oscar nominated film ‘Julie and Julia’( a real life story) where Julie Powell (part played by Amy Adams) challenged herself to make all the 524 recipes from Julia Child's cook book ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ and blogging all her experiences (The Julie/Julia Project). It was an inspiring movie. A few days later when we were discussing this casually with a friend of ours over tea…everything changed dramatically…..” How about you making at least half of it in one year? Not French but your own. 262 recipes that will inspire others and present it as a blog?” For a minute my mind traveled faster than light… With an experience as a helper in my mother in laws kitchen for 6 years followed by a three year everyday struggle to satisfy the palate of my foodie husband, if I cannot do it then why should I cook? But on the other side with an experience in English literature extending no more than expanding outline stories in English grammar class when I was 18 and two small kids that come in handy at times, will a commitment for the next one year work? Anyway my ‘cook's ego’ didn’t allow me to say no...

So my friends …here I am opening my recipe book, trying to perfect and present 262 recipes in the coming 365 days….A Challenge that will of course tastes good. Come.. Have a walk with me along my journey.. Cheering and inspiring….Forgiving and tolerating…Testing and tasting….for ‘A Tasty Challenge’

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Basic White Bread

Recipe No: 145
One of the American Iron Chefs, Michael Simon, said if you master a recipe, you can make one good dish, but if you master a technique, you can make hundreds of recipes using that technique. This is absolutely true, if you think, and one such technique is that of Bread making.

Well earlier when I posted Bread stick recipe I mentioned, how much my husband loves homemade Bread. Now this is my recipe for the Basic White Bread, the one which I tried from my Kitchen Aid handbook with some adjustments in the measurement. Even though I tried many other recipes for Bread, this one seemed to be a keeper. Once you get this  right , you can go crazy with this recipe, making a whole lot of variations…
Ingredients                                       Makes one 8 ½ inch Bread
  • Milk…………………………..1/4 Cup
  • Sugar…………………………1 ½ Tablespoons
  • Salt……………………………1 Teaspoon
  • Butter or Shortening…...1 ½ Tablespoons
  • Active Dry Yeast………….2 ½ Teaspoons
  • Luke warm Water……….3/4 Cup
  • Maida or All Purpose or Bread Flour…2 ½ to 3 Cups
Method of Preparation
  1. Heat Milk, Salt, Sugar and Butter in a saucepan over medium heat until the Sugar is melted. Let it cool to lukewarm.
  2. Dissolve Yeast in Warm Water in a big Bowl. (Bowl of a stand mixer if you have one)
  3. Add the Milk mixture and 2 Cups of Flour and mix really well for a minute or till everything is combined. (Use a dough hook if using a Stand Mixer)
  4. Add ½ to ¾ Cup more of Flour little by little, until the dough forms a soft and sticky ball. (In a stand mixer the dough should leave the sides of the Bowl.) Use only just enough Flour to make a manageable (can be knead without much sticking) dough.
  5. Dump it on to a floured board and knead for 8 to 12 minutes. (If you are using a stand mixer let it knead on speed 2 for 3- 5 minutes) The resulting dough should be smooth and elastic.
  6. Place the dough in a greased bowl turning it once to grease the top.
  7. Cover with a damp towel and let it rise for about 2 hours or till it is doubled in bulk.
  8. Punch it down and roll it into a 14 inch circle.
  9. Fold both sides so that it overlaps slightly in the middle and then from the other side roll the dough as tightly as possible.
  10. Place it in a greased  8 ½ X 4 ½ X 2 ½ inch Bread pan. Cover with a damp towel and let it rise in a warm place till it is doubled in bulk for about 1 hour.
  11. Preheat the Oven to 350˚F/ 180˚C with a another pan filled with 2 Cups of Water in a lower rack.
  12. Bake till the top of the Bread is light brown in color or the internal temperature is 165˚F/ 74˚C.
  13. Remove from pan and let it cool on a wire rack.
  14. Slice and serve once cooled.
  • Bread Flour and All Purpose Flour (which is same as that of Maida) are different. Bread Flour contains a higher amount protein that will in turn develop a higher amount of Gluten when kneaded. This Gluten is responsible for the elasticity of Breads. Thus Bread flour will give a more elastic and soft Bread than that of All Purpose Flour. But you can substitute one with the other using the same measurements, even though, the results may vary slightly. As All Purpose Flour is widely available, I tend to use it more and the results are perfectly satisfactory.
  • Heating milk and then cooling it seems like a step that can be avoided but it is very crucial in determining the texture of the Bread. So please don't avoid this step. 
  • The doubling time for the dough will depend on the power of the Yeast and the temperature of the surroundings. So please wait till the dough doubles in your cooking conditions.
  • The temperature of the Water to which we put the Yeast should be lukewarm. That temperature will activate the Yeast, but if the temperature of the Water is high then it may kill the yeast. So after dissolving the Yeast in Water give it a few minutes to become active, that is shown by the bubbling of the dissolved Water. If it doesn't show a bubbling action either you have killed the Yeast or the Yeast is of poor quality (happens when it is very old). In both cases, start over again with fresh Yeast. 
  • The Water in the pan from the lower rack gives enough water vapor to keep the Bread moist.

    Make it, enjoy the deliciousness and 
    serve it to your family with love...


      Anu said...

      Hi Asha, I am regular viewer of your blog. It is really great!! I have tried your bread recipe twice. first time it came almost good.It was very tasty. But the problem is the middle portion(a coin size) never gets cooked. If I cook long , the outer protion burns!! I don know if its my oven issue!!! Any suggestion plz??

      Asha said...

      Yes Anu...It is a problem with oven temperature... obviously each one of them behaves differently. When ever I move to a new place, I encounter this oven problem and will be able to adjust only after 3-4 baking episodes! Now my suggestions are
      --Try to bake in the middle of the Oven as possible--middle rack middle portion.
      --Half way through make a tent/ cover the bread in a very loose fashion with an Aluminum foil so that the extra time of baking wont burn the Bread. The tent should be made loosely to give space for rising.

      Try this and let me know the results... any more doubts, please ask and I'll answer as soon as possible...
      Thanks for visiting my blog and I hope you will continue to do that in the future too... Thanks..

      Ramesh Krishnamoorthy said...

      I got the perfect bread just like the one I get from stores. Thanks a lot for the recipe

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