I love making homemade bread for my family. It's definitely cheaper than buying it, it's more nutritious, and I know exactly what goes in it. Plus, it stays fresh for about three 3 days in the pantry, a week in the refrigerator, and as long as you want if you freeze it. I like to bake 3 or 4 loaves at a time because it's the same work as baking one loaf. I keep one loaf for the week and I freeze the others. When i need bread, I just take it from the freezer, microwave it for two minutes, and I have bread that smells and tastes like it's just out from the oven. I am experienced making bread and these are the ingredients and measurements I came up with to make the perfect bread.
Step 1: Bread Ingredients
This is what you need for 1 loaf of bread:
3 cups of flour(any kind is fine. I use all purpose flour)
3 tsp active dry yeast
3 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup of warm water
1tbsp butter (or margarine)
Step 2: Make Bread Ingredients
If you have a Kitchen Aid Mixer, that's great and it will do the work for you. But if you don't, it's ok too. You can mix everything by hand and it will turn just fine. Since I have a mixer, I will be using that with dough attachment.
Start by putting the flour, yeast, sugar and the salt in the mixing bowl and combine at a low speed. Slowly pour in a cup of warm water until you make a nice consistent dough. You don't want the dough to be too soft, but if you by mistake end up pouring too much water, don't worry, it happens all the time. Just add some more flour.
Before you finish, cut the butter into small cubes and mix it into the dough.
When you're done mixing and the dough is a bit sticky but not significantly sticking to your hands, start kneading it with a pinch of flour and shape it into a ball.
Finally, put the dough on a well floured surface and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Step 3: Shape the Bread Dough
After about 10 minutes, take the dough and roll it into a long cylinder as shown.
Cut it into into two equal parts and roll it again to form two rolls that are approximately 15 inches long and as wide as your fist.
Put the two rolls next to each other. Connect them at one end, and start braiding them together (over-under).
Step 4: Egg Wash
Once you're done braiding, lightly grease the pan,and then slowly put the bread in. Tuck the ends underneath if needed.
Take an egg and beat it. Brush it over the top of the bread to give it a nice egg wash glaze. Doing this will give your bread a nice color after it bakes. If you happen to be allergic to eggs, you can do this with oil or simply skip this step
Step 5: Bake Bread
Pre-heat an oven to 350 degrees. Once up to temparature, put the bread in for 30 minutes.
When it's done, take it out and let it cool at least 15 mintes before cutting into it. If you cut too early, the inside will be kind of gummy.
Serve it with butter or with one of my soup recipes :), or let it cool for an hour and put into plastic bags, and freeze it for as long as you want. When you want fresh bread, take it out of the freezer and microwave it for two minutes. The butter that's in the bread will help keep the softness of the bread.