At Bloomsbury we hang onto many old terms such as light bread. When I was growing up in the Lemay household, light bread usually referred to a loaf of store-bought Wonder Bread. Or, it meant a yeast bread made with white flour. Light, fluffy are hallmarks of light bread.
So, when we hunkered down as COVID19 struck our little town of Camden, South Carolina early and hard, bread was in high demand. I dug around until I found the old light bread recipe, and it still produces a wonderful homemade bread. When growing up Grandmother Sally Rose made the most wonderful cinnamon rolls in the world from this recipe for white bread. Yes, the world – even if we lived in rural Arkansas. On occasion my mother, Marjorie Dean, would make doughnuts using this recipe. If she’d gone commercial, she would have given Krispy Kreme a run for the money.
There is absolutely nothing difficult about making bread. You need the right ingredients which are all very common. And, you need a little patience. I recommend you gather all your utensils and ingredients before you begin.
- 1 large bowl for mixing the dough or an old wooden dough trough
- 1 medium large bowl for proofing (allowing to rise) the dough
- 1 cup wet measuring glass
- 1 cup dry measuring cup
- 1/3 cup dry measuring cup
- 1 Tablespoon
- 1 teaspoon
- 1 big wooden mixing spoon
- 3 loaf pans
- 2 cups warm water (103-110 degrees F)
- 2/3 cup white sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons dry yeast
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup vegetable or olive oil
- 6 cups white flour
- Cooking spray oil
Before we look at the directions, let me share a couple of secrets. First, who really checks the temperature of water…judge with your hand, you need warm water (not hot and not tepid) to activate the yeast. Second, you can use bread flour if you desire, but plain white flour will do just fine.
- In a large missing bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm water, and stir in the yeast. Set to the side until the yeast proofs…until it gets foamy on top of the water. Estimate 10 mins at the very most. If the yeast does not foam, stop and throw it away. Your warm water was too hot or too cold, or your yeast was dead.
- Mix salt and oil in the foamy yeast mixture. If desired, this is when you add in other feature ingredients such as 1 cup of cheese and 2 Tablespoons of dry jalapeno, or finely chopped fresh rosemary. If you use a dry herb blend from your cupboard, be sure it doesn’t contain salt.
- Mix in the flour, one cup at a time. Be cautious with your stirs or you’ll wear the flour. The first four cups are pretty easy; cup five begins to challenge your mixing spoon. You should not be able to add cup 6 and still use the spoon. Get your hands(remember to take off your rings) in the bowl to ensure all the flour is mixed in.
- Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface. I use an all-cotton “flour sac” tea towel. I dust it with flour and knead away. You can use your granite counter top or a dough mat or waxed paper. You just need a surface to which you can add additional flour if your dough becomes sticky as you knead. Check the clock, you need to work the dough for about 10 mins to get it to a very clean, elastic state.
- Place your dough into a well-greased bowl. I use a glass bowl sprayed with cooking spray oil or rubbed in olive oil. Place dough in bowl and turn it around until it is well coated with oil. Cover with a barely damp, hot cloth and allow to rise. My oven has a proof setting which I use – the water heater closet is another great place. Allow it to rise, double in size, for an hour.
- This is fun. Bring your risen dough back to the kitchen kneading area and punch it down. Yes, poke it with your fist until it deflates. Turn it out on your kneading surface that is sprinkled with a little flour and knead a few more times. Divide the dough into thirds.
- Shape dough into loaves and place into well-greased loaf pans. Poke the dough down and into the corners. Place it back into the warm place for another 30-40 minutes to allow it to rise again. This time it should be at least to the top edge of your loaf pan.
- Then, bake dough in 350 degree oven until golden brown on the top. It will take 30 – 35 minutes. Remove white bread from the oven. Turn bread out onto a cooling rack.
Allow your bread to completely cool before you try to slice it. This will be one of the hardest tasks because it smells so good, and it will be delicious with butter on warm light bread. But, hot bread just smushes down, it will not slice. Don’t do it. Let it cool.
Most of the time, a loaf will not fit into a one -gallon bag. But, as you already know, place one end of the loaf into the bag and pull another one from the other end. You can match the bags and the two will seal together. Store for 3 – 4 days at room temperature, if it lasts that long. Or you can freeze a loaf for later. I always end up giving away a loaf so none of mine makes it to the freezer.
Enjoy the white bread!
Be safe. We promise to serve some white bread when COVID19 allow us to accept guests at Bloomsbury Inn. In the meantime, you can purchase gift certificates online or at 803.432.5858.