Something so simple yet so ridiculously gratifying… bread.
Baking for me is like yoga or some other type of meditation. But there is something truly amazing about baking bread. Bread has been made for centuries, even before the Ancient Egyptians. There is definitely a reason, and isn’t all about nourishment.
Starting off with simple ingredients like flour, yeast, water and more.
Then taking these ingredients and making something that smells amazing and really soothes your soul.
Kneading the dough, ridding yourself of frustrations and negative thoughts.
Baking the bread and smelling its sweet scent of satisfaction.
Eating the wonderful fruits of your labour while nourishing others with what you have created. Who wouldn’t want to bake bread? I am going to share with you the first recipe I ever used to bake bread. It isn’t a family recipe; I didn’t start making that one until recently. This is a recipe that comes from the Amish. They are known for making the most beautiful breads, and this recipe also happens to be really easy.
So for today, put away your bread machine and make this one from scratch. No matter how awful you may be feeling about something, this is a great way to relieve stress.
Simple Amish White Bread
- 2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C) (luke warm)
- 2/3 cup white sugar (I almost ALWAYS reduce this to ¼ cup)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast (make sure it is NOT expired!)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (regular table salt, not coarse salt, not kosher salt, just plain salt!)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil (you can use another oil you prefer such as olive oil)
- 6 cups bread flour
Take a large bowl and dissolve the sugar in warm water. Make sure the temperature is correct and stir in yeast. Allow the yeast to proof (become foamy) for aprox 6-10 minutes. I tend to cover it mostly with saran wrap so it stays nice and warm. Do not use super hot water as your will kill the yeast.
Mix the salt and oil into the proofed yeast. Then, mix in the flour one cup at a time. Knead the dough onto a lightly floured surface until nice and smooth.
Oil a bowl very well and place the dough in a ball, in the bowl. Then turn the dough to coat it in the oil and cover it with a damp cloth. Allow this dough to rise until it has doubled. This should take around an hour depending on the temperature inside and drafts. I also turn the light on inside my oven and place the bowl in there. It is protected from drafts and the light seems to make it just warm enough in there.
Now for more fun! Punch down that dough! Knead it for a few minutes and then divide it into half. Shape the dough into loaves and place into two well-oiled 9×5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise again for 30 minutes. (Remember that oven light trick) The dough should rise an inch or so above the pans. Now bake the bread for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F. Enjoy the sweet smell of satisfaction it provides.
You can do a lot with this recipe. Sometimes I make it and put delicious herbs on top with some butter. Other times I have made cinnamon swirl bread out of it. This is an almost no-fail recipe. And a great recipe to learn on!
Use it the next time you are feeling stressed and need a break. We all have those days, hopefully this will help!