This begins my 5 day series on yeast breads. Today we’ll cover Light Bread. Why is it called that? I guess because it’s light in color……or light in texture. Who knows? All I know is that my mama calls it Light Bread, so I call it that. It’s delicious, so who cares what it’s called. You can call it Dirt Bread for all I care as long as I get to eat it with butter.
This recipe doesn’t take complicated ingredients. You’ll need bread flour, salt, yeast, warm water, sugar, and shortening. Yes, bread flour. Don’t substitute this time.
Pour your warm water in a bowl and add the yeast. Stir it a little bit and add the salt, sugar, and shortening. As you can see, the water isn’t hot enough to melt the shortening completely. It just gets it nice and soft. We don’t want hot enough water to melt the shortening or it would shock the snot out of the yeast. It likes a warm bath, not a “turn me red” bath. Don’t let it freak you out that there is still shortening floating around in there. The flour will take care of it.
To this yeasty mixture you want to add flour until you get a stiff dough – stiff enough to knead. It should form a ball when you stir it and not stick to the sides of the bowl. It will vary each time as to how much flour you add. I’ve got 6 cups written on my recipe, but it didn’t take me 6 cups this time – only about 5 1/2. Anything and everything can affect the conditions of how much flour you need to add – heat, humidity, nosey neighbors, holidays. Just wing it.
Now you will knead the bread. I love to knead bread! It’s a great workout for your arms. When your husband comes home and asked what you did today, tell him you worked out. If you don’t know how to knead, go watch this video. Let me just say I LOVE YouTube! You can see everything on there……..everything. Some things you don’t want to see – like nakedness. Ewwwwwwww. Nakedness and bread don’t mix. I kneaded this about 6 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when it is smooth and round. When you poke it, it should be springy and pop back out. Also, I added about ½ cup of flour when kneading so it did end up being about 6 cups flour total.
Grease a large bowl and plop your dough in there. Flip the dough over to make sure it gets covered all over. Now cover the bowl and let the dough raise until it’s doubled in size. It’s alive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Here is a trick of mine. I find that the temperature of my house can vary so much that sometimes my bread will take all day to raise. I’m not patient enough to deal with that. So, after I cover my bowl I put it in the oven with the light on. It gets really toasty in there! It’ll help it raise quickly. If you have a hot house, you won’t need this step. Oh, and please don’t forget it’s in there and turn the oven on. Plastic melts. I know.
If you look at your dough and think “Hmmm, I’m not sure that’s doubled,” then you can just poke it again. Can you tell I like to poke things? Barry doesn’t like it when I poke him in the armpit. Side note: I do not poke Barry in the armpit while I’m baking bread – gross. Anyway, if it leaves an indention when you poke the dough, it’s ready! If the hole fills back up, it’s not ready. Go watch Days of Our Lives a little longer and eat some bonbons.
For this dough, I used two 9 inch loaf pans. You can get great deals on these at Ross! Not that I shop at Ross regularly or anything. Divide your ready dough in half and form it into loaves. They don’t have to be perfect – the pan will shape them. Grease your two loaf pans, plop the dough in upside down and turn it over so that it gets coated with oil. Now you want it to raise again. It could take 30 minutes or it could take 2 hours. Who knows with bread? It has a mind of its own. Bread is female.
See! It’s ready to go! Nice and raised. Slide it into a 350 degree oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. A good test is to tap it on the top when you think it’s done. If it sounds hollow, it’s done!
Let it sit for 10 minutes in the pan and then turn it out to cool completely on a wire rack. COMPLETELY I said! Don’t cut it now. It’ll get all torn and ugly if you try to cut it hot. Man, I love bread. Whew! Now I need to go eat a piece.
Here’s a bit of information for ya. Between the second raise and baking the bread, I managed to break my last two toes on the left foot. Yep. Shows you how much I love bread – I finished baking it. Bread should not be wasted.
Homemade Light Bread
- 2 cups warm water
- 1 package yeast
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ¼ cup shortening
- ½ cup sugar
- 6+ cups bread flour
- Dissolve yeast in warm water.
- Add shortening, sugar, and salt. Add enough bread flour to make stiff dough.
- Knead 6-8 minutes or until springy and smooth.
- Put into large greased bowl and turn so that entire surface is greased. Cover. Let rise until doubled.
- Divide dough in half and shape into loaves. Put upside down into two greased 9 inch loaf pans. Turn dough over so entire surface is greased.
- Cover and let rise until doubled.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.
- Cool in pan for 10 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool completely.