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How to Make Delicious Homemade Bread

How to Make Delicious Homemade Bread

Anyone who has ever sliced into a loaf of bread while it’s still warm from the oven and taken a bite knows how glorious freshly-baked bread can be. Few of us are lucky enough to live next-door to a bakery, but homemade bread is far easier to make than you realize, and the end result is as economical as it is delicious.

What You’ll Need:

  • A large bowl
  • A mixer (a hand-mixer will work if you don’t have a countertop one)
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Wooden spoons
  • Spatula
  • Rolling pin
  • Two 9″ x 5″ bread loaf pans
  • Cutting board
  • Kitchen knife

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • Butter or margarine

Step 1 – Mixing:

Mixing Dough

    In a large bowl, combine sugar, salt, yeast, and 2 cups of flour. In a medium saucepan, heat milk and 3 tbsp of butter or margarine on low heat until very warm.

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    Step 2 – Beating:

    Beating bread dough

      Gradually beat the liquid ingredients into the dry ones using your mixer at low speed, until they’re just blended. Increase the speed to medium, and beat for 2 minutes, occasionally scraping the bowl with your spatula. Beat in another 3/4 cup of flour (or enough to make a thick batter), and continue to beat for another few minutes, scraping the bowl often. Then use a wooden spoon to stir in enough flour to make a soft dough (approximately 3 cups).

      Step 3 – Kneading:

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      Kneading Dough

        Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 10 minutes, then form into a large ball, and place it in a pre-buttered bowl, making sure to roll it around so it’s greased all over. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and let rise until it doubles in size (roughly 1 hour).

        Step 4 – Rising and Resting:

        Bread

          Punch into the dough by pushing your fist into the center of it, and pulling the edges in. Transfer the dough to a floured surface, cut in half, and cover with the bowl. Let it rest for 20 minutes or so.

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          Step 5 – Forming:

          Forming bread dough

            Butter your two 9″ x 5″ loaf pans. Use your rolling pin to roll out the dough halves into 12″ x 8″ rectangles, pat them all around to shape them into loaves, and then place them, seam-side down, into the pans.

            Cover them with towels and let the dough rise again in a warm place until doubled (about an hour to an hour and a half).

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            Step 6 – Baking:

            Whole wheat loaves

              Preheat your oven to 400F, and brush the tops of the loaves with a bit o melted butter. Bake them 25-30 minutes until the tops are golden-brown and spring back when you press on them lightly. When you tap the loaves, they should sound slightly hollow inside.

              Set the loaves on a rack to cool for a few minutes, then use a serrated knife to saw off a piece, slather it with your favourite topping, and enjoy. There’s nothing quite like biting into a fresh loaf of bread that you’ve baked yourself, is there?

              Variations

              This is a very basic bread recipe, but you can tweak it various ways to create many different kinds of bread to suit your tastes:

              • Use 4 cups whole-wheat flour and 2 cups all-purpose for a more whole-grain loaf, and add a tbsp of molasses to balance the bitterness of the whole wheat.
              • Add grated cheddar and minced green onions into the dough before it rises, and sprinkle with fresh herbs and a bit of garlic powder.
              • To make cinnamon-raisin bread, pre-soak a cup of raisins in warm water for an hour, drain well, and add them to the dough before setting it to rise, along with 1/4 cup of sugar mixed with 1 tsp ground cinnamon.
              • You can add a handful of chopped nuts, fruit, or seeds into the bread for texture and added nutrition, but they may delay the rising time. Try combinations like walnut and chopped apple, flax and honey, or even just pre-soaked sunflower seeds.
              • You can make a pseudo-foccacia bread by adding a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to the wet dough mixture (reduce the milk by the amount of oil that you’ve used), and add ingredients such as chopped oil-soaked sundried tomatoes and rosemary, or sliced olives and capers.
              • With this dough, instead of making loaves, you can divide the dough into 6 rolls and bake them as individual kaiser buns instead. These can be made plain, or filled with spinach and feta, broccoli and cheddar, caramelized onion and swiss, etc.

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              Catherine Winter

              Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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              Last Updated on August 13, 2020

              12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

              12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

              As a mediation teacher, I am constantly confronted with these two questions regarding the benefits of meditation:

              1. Why can’t I enjoy the benefits of meditation continuously?

              I ask back: Is it maybe because you see mediation as a technique, performance, or some exclusive activity? The answer is: yes!

              Or, because your mind is constantly evolving on the past negative attachments and traditional habits? After careful thinking they answer: yes, probably!

              Although meditation is very simple and challenging at the same time, in the above mentioned case, it’s not easy to benefit from meditation, especially when approached with the idea that it has to be learned, studied, or applied. Meditation is to be seen as a natural, mental cleansing process that happens on a basis of awareness on a moment-to-moment experience. When that takes place, the benefits of meditation are continuous.

              2. What is the purpose of meditation?

              The purpose of meditation is to accomplish a level of consciousness for mastering the mind and uniting with the finest, deepest, and subtlest part of yourself as a being.

              It is a conscious process of observation of the mind—helping the meditator to understand the structure of its mind and the quality of its content. During this process, countless benefits of a physical, mental, and spiritual/philosophical nature arise for the meditator.

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              Meditation as a Fixer and Benefactor

              In this article we’ll have a look at the primary and the ultimate benefits of mediation, which improve your body and mind at the same time. For the sake of clarity, readability, and tangible experience, I have separated the benefits into three groups.

              You can change just about anything you don’t like about yourself (psychologically, as well as physically) through meditation. However, this is only possible with a specific approach, when your brain allows the benefits of meditation to do their work.

              This means not to interrupt the benefit with other thoughts, but to let their effect implement itself in your body and mind. This approach is crucial.

              The following exercises will make you feel the benefits of meditation instantly, but the continuity of the benefits of meditation on your body and mind depend on the discipline of your brain, how you manage external stimuli and your thoughts.

              Less Physical, More Psychological

              Even though the practice of meditation is more psychological and less physical, the first benefit we’re going to experience is both physical as well as mental.

              This benefit happens literally immediately, right at the moment of meditation. It is the essence of mediation basically.

              The First Benefit of Meditation

              The first benefit of meditation is twofold:

              1. Improving inward attention (sharpening the mind)
              2. Relaxation of the body

              Let’s do it right now. This benefit consists of only one step, and it is very simple to perform. It goes like this:

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              Sit still and pay attention to your exhalation.

              That’s it! Technically, the whole journey into the world of mediation begins here and nowhere else. And right here, you benefit from this step in the following way:

              When you pay attention to the flow of your exhalation (gentle, deep, effortless exhalation), your body begins with the process of relaxation instantly (your heart rate slows down, your nervous system calms, and tension in your muscles is relieved).

              When the nervous system calms, your mind calms down, and, more specifically, less thoughts are produced by your mind. How, exactly? By applying one of the most valuable mental skills—attention—the mind follows the breathing and has no space and time to generate any other thoughts. Only when the attention goes off the breath, other thoughts are constructed, and the mind is accelerating with thought production again.

              Keeping the First Benefit Effective and Ongoing

              Here you apply the approach of not letting the relaxation and attention process get interrupted; rather let the effects of these benefits implant in your body and mind as deeply as possible.

              This is to say, the instant relaxation and inward attention happen at the same time when you follow the flow of your breath. Repeating this process—creating a constant rhythm out of the breathing and the attention—you create a process of meditation.

              Keep your attention on the flow of your breath and see how the calmness of body and mind begin to rule your present moment. The longer you stay connected to your breathing, the stronger you’ll feel the benefit. Start with 3-5 minutes at a time without doing anything else, and increase to 10-20 minutes and onwards.

              Can you think of a better, simpler and quicker exercise that can relax the body and improve attention in this way, at this speed?

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              This benefit takes you to the second one.

              The Second Benefit of Meditation

              While still working with the first benefit of mediation, you slowly start to see the second benefit of mediation, which is fourfold. I call it the major value of mediation:

              1. Energy (physical and mental strength)
              2. Observance
              3. Peacefulness (stillness, and space of mind for deeper observation)
              4. Patience

              Peacefulness is the source of a blissful life. The energy is the fuel to express that blissfulness. Whatever we want to accomplish in life we need: 1) Physical and mental strength, 2) Observance of that energy, 3) Peacefulness—the calmness and stillness that creates space for freedom of being and creative thinking, and 4) Patience for the process of accomplishment.

              You can only get creative in thinking and boosted with physical and mental energy when you get in touch with the deepest levels of yourself—when you harmonize your mental and physiological activities. How do you do that? Let’s try it right now:

              This step involves the observation of the two separate movements of your breath. After paying attention on your exhalation, you have prepared your body and mind to really see and feel what true peacefulness and true energy means.

              1. Energy

              Keep your attention on your inhalation (inhaling gently, deeply and lightly) and feel the new energy (new oxygen) flowing in your body. The inhalation is the symbol for aliveness and vitality. It is the the primary act that connects the baby’s body with the outside world after coming out of the womb[1]. Each inhalation is a new opportunity for your body to revive, regenerate, and renew itself.

              2. Observance

              The observance comes during the process of meditation, enabling you to see the physiological benefits of introducing new energy to your body. Use that benefit by utilizing its effects, and create deeper observation into yourself. With every single inhalation, this observation will enable you to generate even more energy, mentally and physically.

              3. Peacefulness

              Keep your attention on your exhalation, and feel how, out of the relaxation, peacefulness is spreading throughout your whole body. The exhalation is the symbol for relaxation and peacefulness. Only through meditation can you realize what absolute peacefulness means.

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              4. Patience

              The meditation delivers the previous benefits to you immediately and opens up the possibility for many other benefits and great virtues. A specific one to mention, which is essential for reaching the ultimate benefits of meditation, is patience. If you have experienced the aforementioned benefits, it means that you have invested a certain amount of patience into mastering yourself and your mind.

              The Ultimate Benefits of Meditation

              Patience is a key quality when it comes to the ultimate benefits of meditation.

              Since the mind is the tool that reveals everything, mediation is the method for the proper utility of the tool.

              The above mentioned benefits of mediation lead to the ultimate benefits of mediation—qualities that depict what makes a human being human. As you dwell in a meditative state of being, the following benefits begin to emanate:

              • Diligence: the persistence for righteous effort to reach an intrinsic value; inner strength.
              • Temperance: to express self-control and show excellence in managing the physio-biological and mental necessities
              • Courage: using righteous effort and braveness to look into the weaknesses of yourself and at the hardship of your life, endure it and patiently overcome the obstacles
              • Loving kindness and Compassion – a capacity to care, understand, and tolerate other people’s state of being, wishing them freedom from suffering.
              • Wisdom: the moment when you feel that mediation gives you the feeling and the knowledge that what you do relating to life and practical affairs is just.
              • Equanimity: that puts you in a state of composure, and you experience an ongoing blissful state of being.

              These are the 6 ultimate benefits of meditation that put your body and mind in a state of health and balance.

              Final Thoughts

              Mediation exists to put order in your mind and awaken the best of you, to reconnect you to your goodness and your inborn intelligent capabilities.

              Meditation is the window to your true Self. It gives you a panoramic view of your heart’s greatness. It shows you the true meaning of love, freeing you from the dungeons of ignorance and despair. The power of meditation dismantles the evil that’s trying to cloud the beauty of your heart.

              Your heart, body, and soul are the bridge over which the challenges of life frequently carry their heavy load. Meditation is the support of that bridge. Make use of that support.

              More on Meditation

              Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] Medline Plus: Changes in the newborn at birth

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