Lately I’ve seen a lot of other people having to learn this as well, so I put together an example to help.
Here’s the actual recipe:
Amish Sweet Bread
2 cups warm water (warm to the touch, not hot)
1 packet of yeast
2/3 cup sugar (can be subbed with honey)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup oil (vegetable if you can use it, olive oil for me!)
5-6 cups of flour
If you use wheat flour this turns out like a honey-wheat bread. If you use white flour it turns out like a really good Wonderbread replacement! I haven’t tried rye or other flours. I’m way too lazy for that.
Next, add the warm water and sugar to the bowl of the mixer and stir them together until the sugar dissolves.
Open the yeast packet and pour it in, stirring it gently (I use my hand to stir the yeast in).
Yes, it looks nasty. Very soon though, it starts to smell yummy. What you’re doing here is proofing your yeast. Let it sit 20 minutes and it should look like this:
The foaming shows that the yeast is alive and producing gas, which is what makes your bread rise. If you get no foam, either your water and room are too cold, or your yeast packet has bad yeast.
Next step, add the salt and oil:
Give it a quick mix. Then dump four cups of flour in, all at once:
Turn it on the lowest or second to lowest speed (NEVER go faster than that when making bread) and let it run for about 5 minutes.
When you check in five minutes, if your dough is sticky to the touch, add more flour, about 1/4 cup at a time and turn the mixer back on, checking occassionally until it’s not sticky. If it’s not sticky when you check, you can just turn it back on. You want to let it knead like this for about another 4-5 minutes. At that point, the dough should be hanging off the hook but not sticky to the touch, and the sides of the bowl should be fairly clean.
Next, oil a glass or ceramic bowl. I have one of those misters for oil and just spray olive oil on. Take the mixer bowl off the stand, removing the dough hook as you do so. Give the dough a quick turn by hand in the mixer bowl and then turn it out into the glass or ceramic oiled bowl. Turn the dough around a few times in the bowl to make sure all sides are oiled. Then cover with a warm, damp cloth:
And this is what I mean by a clean mixer bowl:
The dough should have picked up all of the mix as it was kneaded. If there are bits left, leave them. Don’t force them in.
Now let your bowl of dough sit for an hour. Seriously. Set a timer and go do something else. I make bread while working from home which works out wonderfully. An hour later, go back and you’ll see it’s almost doubled in size. If it looks about the same, move it to a warmer location and let sit another 30 minutes.
Punch the dough down a few times and knead a few times lightly. It should look like this when done:
Seriously, give it a few punches, turn it a bit and then cut it in half to make two loaves. I used bread pans to bake this batch, but you can also do free-form loaves on a cookie sheet. As this was a tutorial, I went for standard. Oil the pans and drop the loaves in.
Brush the tops with oil (or spray) and then cover them again and let them rise for 20-30 minutes. Seriously, go do something that’s not baking. They’ll be fine.
After they’ve sat a bit, they’ll look like this:
Next, heat your oven to 350F. Put the loaves in near the middle of the oven:
Leave them there for 30 minutes. Seriously, set the timer and walk away. Do NOT stalk your bread. Only crazy people do that.
At 30 minutes, pull them out and give the tops a tap. It should sound kind of like they’re hollow, or are a really cheap drum.
If you want them browner on top, leave them in a few minutes longer. Let them sit for about 5 minutes and turn them out onto a cooling rack:
I like to take a stick of butter and run it lightly over the top to make it golden (big bread secret there) while they’re still hot. Now leave them alone until they cool if you want to be able to slice them evenly. If you’re a rip in and eat kind of person, go wild.
And there you go! Easy. I spent maybe 5-10 minutes total on my part dealing with it. The rest of the time I took conference calls and put together project plans.