I love baking bread.
Yea, you read that right.
I LOVE it.
I began baking bread about 2 years ago and now I go through phases where I have two fresh loaves every week (or as needed).
The recipe I use makes two loaves, and since I'm a firm believer that home baked bread is best during the first two days, I'll often give away my second loaf so I have an excuse to bake more fresh bread during the week. (and, let's be honest, so I don't eat two loaves of bread to myself in a week)
Without further ado, here is my (still adapting) go to bread recipe:
2 cups warm water
(110 degrees, or if you don't have a thermometer, I just make sure the water is a little warm to the touch, not hot or you will kill the yeast)
1/3 c sugar (I have also used honey here)
1 1/2 tbs dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup ground flax seed
5 2/3 cup bread flour (I prefer wheat)
(this recipe will not work as is with regular flour)
1. In a large bowl dissolve sugar into water until the water is almost clear. Add the yeast and let proof until creamy and foamy looking (I usually set a timer for 7 minutes so I'm not tempted to stir or mess with it before it's ready).
2. Mix salt and oil into yeast. Mix in flour and flax in one cup at a time. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth.
(fun fact, the act of kneading bread actually activates the gluten in the flour and causes it to form elastic web looking patterns that hold air and make your bread wonderfully fluffy, so the more air, the fluffier your bread, hence the saying "the more you love your family the more you knead your bread")
3. Place in an oiled bowl and cover with a warm damp cloth and let rise until doubled or 1 hour.
4. Punch down the dough, knead for a few minutes, and divide in half. Shape into loaves and place in two oiled (I flour the bottoms after an unfortunate sticking incident) bread pans and let rise until 1 inch above the bread pan (at least a half hour)
bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
I like to cut little designs into the tops of my loaves so when I take them out of the oven, not only does my house smell like warm, yummy, bread but I feel extra fancy too. (Google image search if you need ideas)
If your bread isn't rising, your kitchen may be too cold; try turning on your oven and setting the bread on top of the burners (not above the one that exhausts heat from the oven itself, if your oven features this)
An interesting thing about this (if you don't use honey) the bread is technically vegan!