Bread-making has a certain knack to it. It is time consuming but also very rewarding. Whenever I make a basic white bread recipe, I throw in some wheat germ and flax seed (usually grounded), to add some fibre.
For Christmas I received the best present ever...a Kitchenaid Mixer! I have made so much bread now that I have a mixer. I use to use a recipe that took 5 hours to prepare the bread, now I use this one, found in my Kitchenaid mixer manual.
The mixer does all the kneading and placing the dough in the fridge does not deter the yeast from activating but rather slowly allowing the bread to rise and fall and do all the work at a low temperature. It also cuts so much prep time.
I usually divide the dough into 2 and make to large loaves, like the main picture below. Sometimes I divide the dough into 4 and make long skinny baguettes.
I use this bread for everything - sandwiches, bruschetta, dipping into Spinach Breadbowl, Spinach Artichoke dip, and Pepper spread, also for Warm Bruschetta, Grilled Garlic Bread, and Easy-Peasy garlic bread & croutons.
4 cups of all-purpose white flour
1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour, plus extra
3 tbsp of ground flax seed
1 tbsp and 1 tsp of salt ( 17.5 mL)
2 tbsp of white sugar
2 tbsp and 1/2 tsp of dry active yeast
1/4 cup of melted butter (unsalted)
2 cups of very warm water
Step 1:If using a stand mixer, place 4 cups of white flour and 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour, flax, salt, yeast, sugar and butter in the bowl. Attach the dough hook and turn to speed 2. Mix for about 20-30 seconds. While the mixture is coming together, slowly add the 2 cups of warm water, mixing for 1 1/2 minutes.
Step 2: While the mixture continues to mix, you may need to add more flour. If the dough is looking really wet, add 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour at a time, slowly. You may need to another full cup, or only 1/2 cup.
Step 3: Continue to mix on speed 2 for another 2 minutes. Top the machine and let the dough rest for 20 minutes, with a towel covering the dough.
Step 4: Dump the dough onto the counter. Divide the dough in half and shape into either baguettes, or regular loaf .
For french loaves or baguettes, push the dough down, squeezing out the air, making a rectangular shape. Fold the dough over, pressing in the dough to seal what you just folded over. Do this again. Roll the dough with hands, just like you did when you were young with play-dough. Make a rounded log. For pictures of step by step process of how to form baguettes click here.
To make skinnier baguettes/loaves, divide the half into 2 and roll out the dough into long logs. I like to make slashes in the bread - take a sharp knife and on an angle make thin cuts in the dough (as seen in the picture above).
To make a regular loaf of bread, click here.
Step 5: Cover the shaped doughs with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or overnight (12 hours). The longer the dough stays in the fridge, the more time it has to rise (better the bread will be).
Step 6: When you're ready to bake your bread, let the dough rest for 10 minutes at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 400F. If you want a golden crust on your bread, spray with some olive oil. Place into the oven, bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden and when tapped with your hand, it will sound hollow.
Step 7: Cool on a rack.
*If you want this to be completely a white bread recipe, use all all-purpose white flour and do not add the flax seed.
Rounded Bread Loaf:
To make a round bread loaf, form the dough into an even, round shape. With your sieve, dust the top of the loaf with some white flour. Then cut into the dough, 1/4 inch deep, make a cross. Bake at the same temperature and time as the previous recipe.