When my Mother-in-law passed away, we received a few sentimental odds and ends from her husband. One was an old Betty Crocker cookbook. My Mother had one as well when I was growing up and I remember the beautiful pictures of petit fours and birthday cakes, the hand drawn pictures and the ladies with perfect hair, pearls about their neck and chiffon aprons. It was all the picture of a perfect wife… mother… home life. All attributes that I wanted assigned to me! We were not fancy at our house but I do remember my Mom making one of those fun and fancy cakes for my 5th birthday!
When I received my Mother-in-law’s cookbook, it was loaded with well worn, dog eared, crusty pages. Recipes for chocolate chip cookies, apple pie and pancakes, among others, were splattered with splashes of vanilla, dusted with layers of flour and translucent with spots of butter. It was evidence of the number of boys she had and what their favorite foods were for sure! Suspiciously, the soup and salad section of the cookbook is in “like new” condition!
I decided to use a less crusty page in the “Yeast Breads” section. The title of the recipe is “Streamlined White Bread”. This is seriously the least complicated, least expensive and most successful bread recipe I’ve ever used! I can have a loaf rising on the counter in about twenty minutes and can make a loaf for about .65c. This is a total win for me. I have doubled the recipe and changed it to better fit the healthy (and busy) lifestyle we are living here on the Farm.
Let’s get started!
This pretty red mixer was a gift from the Farm husband’s Auntie! I use this one bowl for everything. I pour two and half cups of hot water from the tap. Water that is too hot or too cold can kill the yeast. Ideally you are shooting for a temperature around 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Our well water has great mineral content so that also adds to the nutrition of this bread! After pouring that into the bowl, I add the sweetener. You can use any that you want but we use dried cane juice. I also like using local honey when I have it. Yeast goes in after that. Yeast is a fungus and it needs to have something to eat in order to produce the gas bubbles that will eventually form the uniform holes that create airiness in your loaf of bread! The sugar is the perfect food here.
I just give the dough hook a whir to stir it all together a bit and then turn it off and wait.
Before long, your mixture will begin to bubble as the yeast works it’s magic!
Next, add some flour and start the mixer on low. Because different flours absorb moisture differently and the humidity in the air can be different from day to day, you may need to add more or less flour than the recipe calls for so just add a little at a time.
With the mixer still on low, add the olive oil and then the salt. Salt is another yeast killer so you want to incorporate that slowly. This is a very forgiving recipe, tho, so don’t be intimidated. Add the rest of your flour slowly and turn up the speed of your mixer. Keep mixing and adding flour until the dough cleans the bowl and loses much of it’s stickiness.
Remove your dough from the bowl now and separate it in to two even loaves. I often will weigh my loaves to make sure they are close in size. Grease two loaf pans and place each loaf in a pan.
I picked this old tea towel that my Auntie gave me and covered the loaves. Covering them helps prevent a “skin” from forming on the top of your loaves while they rise and thus preventing a full rise.
At this point, you may be wondering what happened to the initial rise. Where’s the part where you get to punch the dough down!? Well, I don’t do a double rise with this recipe and, guess what? It still turns out an amazing loaf that my family consumes in no time flat making this recipe not only economical but, efficient as well! If you want to do two rises, go for it! If you need something to punch, this may be just the solution for you!
Now it’s time to wait. I always say let it rise until it looks like a pretty loaf of bread! This should take somewhere around an hour. Make sure it’s sitting in a warm room… no drafts!
Once your loaves look great, turn on the oven and put them in. You heard that right, I also don’t preheat my oven. I find that as the bread warms in the oven, it adds a little more height. My bread takes about 30-45mins to bake to the right temperature. Using a stick thermometer, I test a loaf of bread that is golden brown on top. I make sure the temperature is 180 degrees. There are lots of methods used to determine whether a loaf is ready so whatever works for you is fine. This is just what I have found is best for me.
Remove them from the oven and run a knife along the side edges. Let them cool for about 20 minutes or until they can be removed easily from the pan. Set them on a cooling rack until they are cool enough to slice. If I’m being honest, we slice our bread almost straight out of the oven! I mean, who can resist!? Remember to use a good serrated bread knife to slice your bread and never push down, just “saw”, or you’ll squish your bread!
Tip: Slice each loaf completely after it’s cooled before putting it into your bread bag. This keeps little people from trying to slice the bread but smashing it instead. Ask me how I know…
Tip: Save ends in a freezer bag to dry later and pulse them in the food processor to make bread crumbs.
Tip: (Although this is seriously a no fail recipe… ) Failed loaves are never a fail! Take your failed loaf and cut it up into cubes. Dry the cubes in the oven or food dehydrator and store in the freezer for stuffing at Thanksgiving time. Every year I make a heavy loaf just for that reason.
“Easiest bread ever…” ~Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cook Book, 1961, 6th printing
No Fail Bread Recipe
- Mixer with a dough hook
- 2.5 Cups Water 110 degrees
- 4.5 tsp Active Dry Yeast
- 4 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 4 tsp Sea Salt
- 4 Tbsp Sucanat White Sugar, Honey or Other Sweetener may be used
- 6 Cups Flour White, Unbleached White or Wheat
- In mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast and sucanat in the warm water.
- After the mixture begins to bubble (about 10 minutes), start the mixer on low and add a cup of flour.
- Add in the oil. Keep the mixer on the entire time.
- Add in another cup of flour.
- Slowly add in the salt.
- Increase the speed of the mixer while continuing to add in flour 1/2-1 cup at a time.
- Continue to add flour until the dough cleans the bowl of the mixer.
- Knead the dough on high for several minutes until it loses most of it's "stickiness". Stop the mixer and let the dough rest a few minutes while you prep the pans.
- Grease two loaf pans with butter.
- Separate the dough into two equally formed loaves. Place them each in a greased loaf pan.
- Cover with a towel and leave them to rise for about an hour in a warm place.
- After the loaves are risen, turn the oven on to 350 degrees and add the loaves immediately to the oven.
- Bake for approximately 45 minutes (all ovens are different) or until the internal temperature checked with a stick thermometer reaches 180 degrees.
- Remove the loaf pans from the oven and carefully run a knife along the edge of the pan. Let cool.