The first time I ever made bread was with my best friend, E. She’s a truly special friend, intuitive and encouraging. And it somehow seems fitting that I was in the kitchen with her even before I knew I loved food. Even more fitting that she was the first person to ever give me a cookbook.
And I still have it, Enchanted Broccoli Forest. Obviously, it has a bit of sentimental value to it, but it’s honestly just full of fun, healthy, and delicious meal ideas. I loved their section on pies. But more importantly, that bread section.
Okay, so that first time we made this bread it got mixed reviews. My parents said it was missing salt. It was as dense as a brick. Or as heavy as one. But Emily’s parents told her they liked it. I think I kind of agree with my parents, but once again, my best friend’s encouragement, right?
What I most remember that night, was a good time. Baking bread, a hearty soup…and the world’s worst French movie alive. So bad that I won’t even poison your innocent minds with the title-and I don’t actually remember what it was called. All I know was that it involved a shut-in who had some sort of robot suit. The whole thing was a very awkward PG-13 moment (in Europe, in the US?) Anyway, the worst part was that it was available to check-out at the local library. I still can’t believe we watched any length of that film with my parents sitting in the kitchen.
I suppose they couldn’t read the subtitles from where they were sitting.
Just so you know, this bread recipe does NOT lack salt. It is not dense. Both of those horrible adjectives with which I have just described my first attempt at this recipe should NOT deter you from making it!
In my first bread recipe on this site, I talked about loving to cook with splashes, dashes, smells, and whatever tastes right. Someone commented and said that making bread was a game of “exacts”. But I suppose I didn’t really make a case for myself.
See, this bread recipe calls for cups, not weight. So, actually, you kind of do get to “know” the bread, and drizzle in a bit of molasses vs. using ½ teaspoon exactly. The more you make sponges, the more you understand how best to mix them, and what they look like if the yeast is alive and kicking. And I have never counted or timed myself while kneading the dough. I know what it looks like when it’s smooth and ready. And when you read the amount of flour to put in, you know you can start with a portion of it, and then slowly add in the remaining flour as needed…while kneading.
In fact, that is what I love about the bread section of this book! It was designed for cooks like me! Instead of getting panties ruffled and such over weight vs. cups, the bread section walks you through the bread making process! It then goes into making YOUR OWN signature loaves by telling you about substitutions and effects!
To this day, if I’m using other bread recipes and I get to the wash section, I will double check to see what kind of crust I’m going for. And yes, making bread is an exact science…except, once you get to know a bread recipe, you can have a little fun with it!
I have been making this bread recipe for almost ten years now – not regularly since we would often buy fresh bread in France (because we were in France). And besides my first somewhat failed attempt to make this recipe, I’ve always been pleased by how well it “ages”. Of course, slicing into it while it is still warm is treat enough on its own. But after about three days, it slices up nice and thin and you can heat it up for toast or use it as a beautiful sandwich slice. We have a couple of loaves frozen right now that we will probably pull out by the end of the week and warm up in the oven so we can have fresh bread for breakfast.
So go ahead and “get to know” my bread recipe. You won’t be disappointed.
Check out the Enchanted Broccoli Forest on Amazon for loads of awesome vegetarian recipes (and their bread section).
- 2 cups lukewarm water
- 1 Tablespoon rapid rise yeast
- a drop of molasses
- 1½ cups AP flour
- 4 tablespoons melted butter, warm but not hot
- ⅓ cup sugar (or molasses)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- Additional Flour
- 7 cups flour (can be all AP or a mix of whole wheat bread flour and AP)
- Milk wash
- Add the water, molasses, and flour to start the sponge. Add in the yeast and incorporate. Let rest for 10 minutes.
- Add 1 cup of the additional flour, and all of the mix ingredients. Then slowly add the additional flour until the dough comes together to form a sticky ball. Use more of the additional flour to generously flour your kneading surface and knuckles and knead, adding more of the additional flour until you get a smooth, elastic dough.
- As an option, you may use your dough hooks and a mixer to do most of this-I still generally turn it out and knead by hand for in the final stages once the dough has come together.
- Then lightly oil and let rise 1-2 hours until doubled in size.
- Shape into loaves (for one recipe, I like to divide into 3 slightly smaller loaves). I like leaving these free form, as rounds. You can generously flour a cookie sheet.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F
- Let rise another thirty minutes to an hour (30 ONLY if using instant yeast!), score the tops of the bread with a sharp knife, and use a pastry brush to apply milk.
- Place in oven and bake approximately 40 minutes (check after 30). The bread should sound hollow if you tap it and be golden brown (and delicious).
- Wait ten minutes before slicing into the bread (I dare you).