Where Does Bread Come From?
Bread is a staple food in many parts of the world. Bread-making started about 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent, the part of the Middle East that follows an imaginary line that curves, like a quarter-moon shape, from the Persian Gulf through modern-day southern Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and northern Egypt. Ancient Egyptians usually get the credit for inventing the oven and discovering leavening, both of which are quintessential components of the bread-making process.
Every loaf of bread begins with basic ingredients such as yeast, flour, liquid (water or milk), salt, sugar, butter, or shortening. For this recipe, I used bread flour, which has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour.
Bread-Making Is a Science
The bread-making process is like a science, which is something I enjoy very much. It starts when you combine the flour with the liquid. Then, you beat, mix, and knead the dough so that the gluten is worked into long elastic strands. It stretches and traps the bubbles of carbon dioxide gas that the yeast produces as it grows. It is these bubbles that cause the dough to rise and give the bread a light texture. The process can be done by using an electric mixer, or if you're up for a challenge, you can do it by hand.
My Homemade Bread
Baked goods are best when they're warm and fresh. There's nothing like the aroma of fresh homemade bread, hot from the oven. Of course, it's easy to get store-bought bread, but making my own bread gives me satisfaction and comfort.
I hope you'll consider trying this recipe! I guarantee that after you've made it, you won't want to buy bread at the store anymore.
Prep Time: 3 hours (including proofing and resting time)
Total Time: 4 hours
Yield: 1 loaf bread
For the yeast mixture:
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon sugar or honey
For the dough:
- 4 1/3 cups bread flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar or honey
- 1 tablespoon cooking vinegar
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup warm water
- Make the yeast mixture: In a mixing bowl, combine warm water, active dry yeast, and sugar or honey. Gently stir with a spatula.
- Allow the yeast mixture to sit in a warm place until it is activated and becomes frothy.
- Combine the flour, salt, melted butter or oil, vinegar, and warm water into the yeast mixture.
- Mix the ingredients with a spatula to form a rough dough.
- Place the mixing bowl in the mixer with a kneading hook attachment. Mix at low speed for about 5 minutes until the dough comes together to form a ball.
- Increase the speed and continue kneading the dough for another 15 minutes or until it's smooth and elastic.
- Remove the dough from the hook and transfer it to a mat or floured surface. Fold the dough over a few times by hand and transfer it to a greased bowl. Cover with cling wrap. Let the dough proof for about 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.
- Transfer the dough to a floured surface or kneading board. Gently press the dough by using your fingers to let the air out. Shape the dough into an even thick rectangle.
- Roll the dough tightly starting from the short side. Make sure to press the edges of the dough as you're rolling up. Tuck in the edges underneath the dough to seal it.
- Transfer the dough to the prepared loaf pan. Loosely cover with cling wrap and let it proof again for about 90 minutes in a warm place.
- In the meantime, preheat the oven to 375ºF.
- Place the loaf in the middle of the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 195ºF.
- Cool it on a wire rack. Brush the top with melted butter and honey. Let it cool completely before slicing.
© 2020 Liza