In The last 2 days Ii have tried 3 different white bread recipes, with thr result being something heavy that slightly resembled bread. Please help! Ii am dying for some homemade, melt in your mouth bread!
Look at some of the recipes on the King Arthur Flour website. They have good instructions which is really a lot more important in baking yeast bread than a list of ingredients. Pick out one proven recipe and keep working on it until you get it right.
1. You need to make sure you have enough liquid to in your dough, a dry dough will make a tough bread. It is always better for a dough to be too wet than too dry. If you are mixing by hand don't worry if the dough is sticking to your hands or the counter. Once you have the gluten developed to the proper point it will stop sticking, DON'T add extra flour to keep the dough from sticking just let it stick and keep working it (even if all you can do is stretch it out and fold it over) until it finally comes together. I have had doughs that were so wet that all I could do was grab a handful of goo and stretch like I was trying to fly, but eventually the gluten develops and you will end up with a nice dough.
2. You need to make sure that you have enough gluten in your flour, if your not using bread flour buy some gluten (should be on the shelf near the flour) and add a tablespoon per loaf. It will improve the texture of your bread.
3. Use a soaker, it will greatly improve the texture of your bread. On the morning that you plan to make your bread mix all your ingredients in a large bowl except for the last 2 cups of flour. It should have the consistency of a thick cake batter. Cover it and let is sit, bubble and rise for several hours. I do at least 3 hours but 4 hours is better, don't be concerned if the dough takes on a slightly sour smell, it won't be sour when you bake it. Then mix in the last 2 cups of flour, knead and continue with your recipe. And yes you can still do this if the batter has milk and eggs in it. The lactobacilli in the yeast, which is what gives you the sour smell, will also protect the perishable ingredients from any other unwanted germs joining the party. The soaker will also keep your homemade bread from going stale for days longer than usual.
4. If you don't already have one buy an instant read thermometer. When you bake your bread start checking it at the shortest stated time in your recipe. If you want a soft sandwich bread pull it from the oven when it reaches and internal temperature of 180°...If you are looking for a harder crustier bread pull it at 200°.
5. Let your baked bread cool completely before you cut it then store the bread you want to keep soft in a plastic bag.
Hope this helps...
Edited to add: This is my favorite white bread recipe. It will make two loaves if you use loaf pans. I like to free form my dough and bake it on a cookie sheet.
I have a large two paddle bread machine that I make this bread in. If you are planning to use a bread machine I would put the soaker in another, larger bowl so it doesn't rise out of the pan and make a mess.
Fluffy White Bread
Makes 2 loaves
1 heaping tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons honey
3 ounces tub butter melted
1/2 heaping cup powdered milk
1-1/2 cups very warm water
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
Place all the ingredients (except for the last 2 cups of flour) in bread machine in the order listed. Turn machine on just to mix well then turn the machine off and allow mixture to sit in the bread machine for 4 hours.
Then add the last 2 cups of flour to the machine, select the dough cycle and turn the machine back on. When the dough cycle is finished remove the dough from the machine. Divide the dough into two loaves, shape and place in prepared bread pans to rise.
Allow dough to rise until the dough is 2 inches above the pan. Then bake in a preheated 350° oven for 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 180°. Remove bread from the pans to a cooling rack and cool completely before slicing. Store at room temperature in plastic bags of some other airtight container.
Ii Did it!!! Woohooo!
Tried couple more times....resulting in some flour bricks
I had all but given up, when at a yardsale saturday morning somethibg caught my eye...a shiny white bread machine! Today I successfully made (and ate!) My first loaf of white bread!
I prefer to let the bread machine do all the work but I've started making it by hand again because I hate cleaning the bread machine so much. I almost never use a mixer and use a fork instead for the same reason, the fork is a whole lot easier to clean. My dishwasher broke years ago and I refuse to spend the money to fix it when I can darn well wash dishes myself like we did when I was a kid LOL.