A creative way to spend a lazy afternoon. I had the sudden urge to make bread over the summer, after rereading the FamilyFun book. I found that the recipe provided was indeed quick and easy,
Be warned though, this recipe is extremely time consuming and should only be made when you have 3 hours to spare. The recipe can be used to make other kinds of breads, this recipe is just the beginning.
Original recipe is from the 1996 FamilyFun Cookbook
2 cups of warm water*
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
5 1/ 2 to 6 cups of all-purpose flour
2 tsp of salt
1 tbsp of water
*by warm, I mean it's warm enough to be comfortable on your wrist and not burn it off!
Add the yeast and sugar to the warm water and whisk them together until dissolved.
Measure 2 cups of the flour and add to the bowl. Whisk the mixture well and let it set for 10 minutes until it has expanded and is bubbling slightly (this is called proofing, mind you).
Stir in the salt, then add the remaining flour a cup at a time, making it now into a dough of sorts.
Remembering to flour your workspace, transfer the dough and knead for 10 minutes until elastic and smooth. Roll into a ball.
Grease the ball with vegetable oil completely and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap (paper towels work too) in a draft-free area (like your fridge) for 2 hours or until doubled in size.
Punch down the dough and knead it again to get rid of any air bubbles.
Cut it in half and again into three parts. Roll them into 10 inches of length. Braid from the center to avoid tearing and pinch at each end. Repeat for the other half or store for another creation you might want to make (it stores for up 6 months frozen).
Preheat an oven to 400°F. Place the loaf(s) on a greased baking sheet. Make the egg wash by whisking the egg and water together, and brush on the dough.
Bake for 25 minutes. Serve with your favorite butter, oil or jam and enjoy!
Makes 2 loaves.
Note: The dough freezes quite well in an airtight container and lasted a good 3 months before I used the other half.
Fruit bread: while adding the flour in the mixing stage, add 1 cup dried fruit like prunes and cherries and mix well.
Cinnamon: add 1/ 4 cup of ground cinnamon on the mixing stage.
Banana nut: add 2 mashed bananas with 1/ 2 cup of chopped almonds and a generous tbsp of cinnamon sugar to the mixing stage.
Cheesy crust: Just before baking, sprinkle your favorite grated cheese over the top of your dough.