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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 January 21, 2020

              The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

              The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

              Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

              your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

                Why You Need a Vision

                Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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                How to Create Your Life Vision

                Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

                What Do You Want?

                The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

                It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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                Some tips to guide you:

                • Remember to ask why you want certain things
                • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
                • Give yourself permission to dream.
                • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
                • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

                Some questions to start your exploration:

                • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
                • What would you like to have more of in your life?
                • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
                • What are your secret passions and dreams?
                • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
                • What do you want your relationships to be like?
                • What qualities would you like to develop?
                • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
                • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
                • What would you most like to accomplish?
                • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

                It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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                What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

                Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

                A few prompts to get you started:

                • What will you have accomplished already?
                • How will you feel about yourself?
                • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
                • What does your ideal day look like?
                • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
                • What would you be doing?
                • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
                • How are you dressed?
                • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
                • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
                • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

                It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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                Plan Backwards

                It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

                • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
                • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
                • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
                • What important actions would you have had to take?
                • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
                • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
                • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
                • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
                • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

                Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

                It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

                Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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