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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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              12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

              12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

              Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

              But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

              I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

              Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

              1. Nuts

              The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

              Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

              Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

              Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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              2. Blueberries

              Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

              When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

              3. Tomatoes

              Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

              4. Broccoli

              While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

              Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

              Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

              5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

              Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

              The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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              Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

              6. Soy

              Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

              Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

              Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

              7. Dark chocolate

              When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

              Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

              15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

              8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

              Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

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              B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

              Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

              Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

              To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

              9. Foods Rich in Zinc

              Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

              Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

              Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

              10. Gingko biloba

              This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

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              It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

              However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

              11. Green and black tea

              Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

              Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

              Find out more about green tea here:

              11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

              12. Sage and Rosemary

              Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

              Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

              When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

              Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

              Reference

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