John 6:32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
Listen up Keto followers: God made bread > Jesus calls Himself bread > Jesus says to eat bread. The end. Over the past 6 months I have jumped headlong into the bread baking world. There’s nothing like the smell of fresh baked bread permeating through the house. Homemade bread can transform a lackluster sandwich or bowl of soup. When you make it from scratch, you have the ability to control the ingredients. No hidden sugars or preservatives. And there’s just something so nostalgic and heart-warming about homemade bread. I am in no way a master baker, but I wanted to share some of my favorite recipes I’ve found so far.
The Best Crusty Bread (Ego Boosting Bread)
This is my go-to recipe that I found from a New York Times article. I’m a lazy bread maker and hate to knead dough. You literally mix these ingredients and do nothing with it and it makes the most amazing bread. I make it once to twice a week for sandwiches and afternoon bread and butter. It’s also great with an Italian dish or a hearty soup. Now that it is summer, I’ve enjoyed mixing fresh herbs from the garden into the dough. My fave combo so far has been rosemary and lavender. You’ll love this recipe and feel like such a pro baker.
- 1 ½ tablespoons yeast
- 1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
- 6 ½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough
- In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).
- Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put dough on pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.
- Place broiler pan on bottom of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.
- Dust dough with flour, slash top with serrated or very sharp knife three times. Slide onto stone. Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes. Cool completely.
White Amish Bread (Won’t Last 12 Hours Bread)
This bread requires having a starter, but let me tell you, it is worth the effort. If you don’t know anyone with a friendship bread starter, you can start your own (see link). This recipe is from the Friendship Bread Kitchen. A friend of mine shared her starter with me and I’ve been hooked ever since. Warning: You cannot stop eating this bread. All I need with this bread is butter. You could also bake it for sandwiches, but mine never makes it past the afternoon snack time.
- 1 ¼ ounce package active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoons)
- ¼ teaspoon granulated sugar
- ½ cup warm water 105-110° F
- 1 cup Amish Friendship Bread starter
- ½ cup warm milk 105-110° F
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2¾ to 3¼ cups bread flour
In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and ¼ teaspoon sugar in the warm water. Set aside until foamy, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine yeast mixture, starter, milk, kosher salt, oil and 2 cups of the bread flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until well combined. Add enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Add flour if needed.
Grease a large bowl and place the dough in it, turning the dough to grease all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1½ to 2 hours, depending on how warm it is in your kitchen.
Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
Gently punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly-floured surface. Pat the dough into a rectangular shape. Fold one short end (⅓) of the dough toward the center and gently press the seam with the side of your hand. Repeat with the other ⅓ of the dough, bringing it to the center and pressing as before. Fold the dough in half and lightly press the edges together to seal the seam, then press each end of the dough to seal the ends and tuck them under.
Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and gently press down the dough with your hand to make it even all the way across. Cover the pan lightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it is slightly above the rim of the pan, about 30-45 minutes. Don’t let it rise beyond 1″ of the edge or it will collapse when it bakes.
When the dough is almost to the top edge of the loaf pan, preheat the oven to 350° F (176° C).
Remove plastic wrap and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the bread is light golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.
If a soft top crust is desired, lightly brush the top crust with a little melted butter.
Turn the bread out of the pan and place on a wire rack to cool for least 30 minutes before slicing. Makes 1 (9×5-inch) loaf.
Bakery Challah (Spiritually Connected Bread)
Pronounced “holla,” challah is an eggy bread traditionally made by Jews for the Sabbath and holidays. This is probably my favorite bread to make for special occasions. I also make this for communion. This bread requires more effort with kneading and braiding, but it’s the prettiest loaf I’ve ever made. I went through several recipes before finally finding one that has the texture and taste I prefer. I found this recipe in the “Inside the Jewish Bakery” cookbook that is, unfortunately, no longer in print. This is a recipe to keep and pass down to your children.
- 5 2/3 cups Bread flour
- 1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp Sugar
- 2 1/4 tsp Salt
- 2 1/2 tsp Instant yeast
- 7 1/2 large Egg yolks
- 1/4 cup Vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups Warm water
- 2 large Egg whites, for glazing
- 2 Tbsp Poppy, sesame, or chernushka seed (optional)
- Measure flour, sugar, salt, and yeast into a stand mixer and beat ingredients at low speed, about 1 minute.
- In a separate bowl, whisk until blended the egg yolks and vegetable oil. Add the warm water and continue whisking into a smooth emulsion. Add to the dry ingredients and continue mixing until the dough is evenly hydrated and comes together in a shaggy mass, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Switch to the dough hook, if using a stand mixer, and knead at low speed for 10 to 12 minutes, until the dough forms a smooth, glossy ball that leaves the sides of the bowl. If kneading by hand, turn the dough onto a well-floured work surface and knead for 12 to 14 minutes.
- Form the dough into a large ball, put into a greased bowl, cover with a damp towel or cling wrap and allow to ferment until double in bulk, 45 to 60 minutes.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, punch it down and knead it for 1 minute or so, then divide into two pieces of approximately 24 oz each.
- Divide each of these into as many pieces as appropriate for the braid you’re using (YouTube how to braid challah). Roll each piece into a tight ball, cover the balls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for 20 to 30 minutes to relax the gluten.
- Using your hands, roll each ball into a long sausage that is thick in the middle and tapered to a point at the ends. Braid.
- Put the braided loaves on a piece of baking parchment, cover them with a damp towel and allow them to proof until the dough doesn’t spring back when a finger is pressed into it.
- About 20 to 30 minutes before bake time, preheat your oven to 350 degrees with the baking surface in the middle.
- Brush each loaf lightly with beaten egg, wait 1 minute and then give them a second coat. Sprinkle with seeds to taste.
- Slide the loaves and parchment onto your baking stone or bake on a sheet pan for 30 to 40 minutes, turning the loaves halfway through so they’ll brown evenly.
- Transfer the finished loaves to a rack and let cool for at least an hour before cutting.