Saturday, February 13, 2010

Martha Stewart's Classic White Bread Recipe

I think this is the best homemade white bread I have ever tasted.  The only thing I don't like about it is the crusts get too dark.  I like nice golden crusts.  My friend, old camp cook, and I have been experimenting with different techniques to see if we could fix this problem  Yesterday, I made the bread again.  What I did seems to work (at least for me).  The recipe calls for you to turn the loaves after 20 minutes.  I moved the loaves down one shelf level.  Also I did not butter or put oil on the crusts prior to baking.  This seemed to help. 

Here is the recipe.  Martha uses measurements, I prefer to use weight.  When measuring, you can not guarantee consistent measurements - one day the flour might be fluffier, you packed it a little heavier, etc.  100 grams of flour will always be 100 grams of flour.  Also it is easier doubling, tripling or halving (is there such a word??) when using grams - to double 100 grams - you get 200 grams - to half 100 grams of flour - you get 50 grams.  Now how would you half 1 2/3 cups of flour.  It can be done, but if you are not a mathematical genius, you could be in trouble. 

Here is Martha's recipe with both measurements and weights (weights are shown in parenthesis):

Classic White Bread


INGREDIENTS:

1 T plus 1 1/2 t active dry yeast (20 grams)

2 1/2 cups warm water -100ºF. (552 grams)

3 T plus 2 t (175 grams) honey

4 T (50 grams) unsalted butter, melted **** don't use salted butter - it makes the bread taste very salty!

7 cups (945 grams) Unbleached All Purpose flour

2 T (38 grams) salt

PROCEDURES:

1. (If using Active Dry Yeast) - Sprinkle yeast over 1/2 cup water. Add 2 teaspoons honey. Whisk until yeast dissolves. Let stand for 5 minutes - should get foamy. Transfer to mixer bowl. Add melted butter and remaining 1 3/4 cups water and 3 T honey. Whisk flour with salt. Add 3 cups to yeast mixture. Mix on low until smooth. Add remaining 4 cups flour - 1 cup at a time until dough comes away from sides of bowl and forms a ragged, slightly sticky ball.

(If using SAF Instant Yeast) - Pour all of the water and the yeast in the mixing bowl. Stir to mix. Add all of the honey and the melted butter. Add approximately 3 cups (305 grams) of flour and stir. Let rest 5 minutes. Add remainder of flour and salt. Mix for about 5 minutes until dough forms a fairly smooth ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

2. Remove dough from mixer.

3. Knead dough on floured surface until smooth and elastic, but still slightly tacky - about 5 minutes.

4. Shape into a ball. Transfer to a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap.

5. Let dough stand in a warm place until it doubles (about 1 hour).

6. Grease 2 loaf pans. Punch down dough and divide into half.

7. Shape dough and place in pans. Brush each loaf with butter.

8. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

9. Put pans of dough in a plastic bag and tuck open ends of bag underneath.

10. Let stand until dough rises about 1 inch above tops of pans (45 minutes to 1 hour). - not in oven!!

11. Reduce oven temperature to 400.   Remove plastic bags from bread pans.

12. Bake, rotating pans after 20 minutes, until tops are golden brown - total bake time about 45 minutes. ** I bake for a total of 40 minutes - see my notes above.

13. Remove loaves from pans and transfer to wire racks.

The hard part is waiting for the bread to cool!!! It is so good warm with butter melted on it.  This makes an excellent sandwich bread and also great as french toast!

1 comment:

  1. I got this recipe years ago out of an old MS magazine and had lost it in a move from FL to CA. Just remembered the bread the other day. It's so wonderful!!! Thanks for publishing the recipe. It's just as good as I remembered!

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