I love making 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 2 minutes, and I have bread that smells and tastes like it's just out from the oven. I experienced making bread and this are the ingredients and measurements I came up with to make the perfect bread.
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 margarine (oil or butter work just fine, I prefer margarine)
If you have a Kitchen Aid Mixer, that's great it will do the work for you. But if you don't, it's ok, you can mix everything by hand and it will turn just fine. I will be using a mixer and the dough attachment.
Start by putting the flour, the yeast, the sugar and the salt and start mixing on speed 2 .. Add the warm water, 1 cup or as much as you need, 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. At the end, cut the margarine into small cubes and add it to the mixing 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 bit of flour and form it into a ball. After that, put the dough on the counter or on a cutting board and let it rest for 10 minutes.q
After about 10 minutes, you take the dough and roll it. It should look something like my picture.
Divide it in 2 equal parts and roll it again into 2 rolls of about 15 inches long and as wide to fit into your hand.
Put the 2 rolls next to each other, connect the at one end, and start braiding them together.
Once you're done braiding, take the bread pan and spray it with PAM.
Take the bread and put it into the pan slowly, tuck the ends underneath if needed.
Take the egg and beat it, and with a brush brush it on the bread. This will give your bread a nice color. If you happen to be allergic to eggs, you can do that with oil or don't do it at all.
Put it to bake at 350 degree, 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 2-2:30 minutes. The margarine that's in the bread will help keep the softness of the bread.