Tassajara Bread Book.
Over to Tiff:
I like it because not just because it's easy and it makes wonderful bread, but also because 1) you can use sweet potatoes in it, which have good vitamins and things and are really tasty, and 2) it has some eggs and butter, which means that it boosts the nutritional content of the bread (ala Michael Pollan's philosophy that "low-fat" isn't necessarily always good and that some fat with one's carbohydrates enables the body to process the food slower, making high-glycemic index foods less "unhealthy" for one).
1 cup mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes
1 1/2 cups potato water (the water leftover from boiling the potatoes before you mash them)
2/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 packet (1 tbsp) yeast (fast-acting works a little better, from experience)
2/3 cup butter, softened
7 to 7 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1. Mix together 1 1/2 cups potato water (should be lukewarm, not cold), 2/3 cup sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. salt
2. Crumble into mixture 1 packet/1 tbsp yeast. Stir until dissolved.
3. Add 2 eggs and 2/3 cups softened butter.
4. Mix in first with spoon, then with hand, 1 cup mashed potatoes (also lukewarm, not cold) and 7 to 7 1/2 cups flour.
5. Knead until smooth. Place in an air-tight container in the fridge or a bowl covered in moist cloth. Keep for as long as 7-10 days. Maybe even longer! As long as it doesn't smell "off", I think it's fine.
When you want to eat bread:
1. Cut off as much dough as you need and shape into desired shape (loaf, cloverleaf rolls, crescent rolls, knots, regular rolls, etc.) in/on the thing you're going to bake it in/on (a greased loaf pan, cast-iron skillet, cake pan, muffin tins,cookie sheet. Don't forget to grease) . Cover with damp cloth.
2. Wait 1 1/2 to 2 hours for dough to rise until doubled (it takes longer in colder temperatures. In such cases, I often preheat the oven to 190F and turn it off immediately, then wait for it to become just warm, not hot. Then I stick the dough in.)
3. When ready, preheat oven to 400F (take bread dough out of oven first, if relevant) and bake bread for 12-15 minutes for rolls, longer for whole loaves (consult other loaf recipes, as I've never made a whole loaf with this dough...I know it's possible because my mother-in-law has made loaves.)
Be Creative! This dough recipe works for EVERYTHING. I usually make rolls and add extra butter (brushing it on the top, or on the dough-surface before rolling it up). But I've also made cinnamon rolls (add cinnamon-sugar and butter before rolling up), basil rolls, cheese rolls, and marinara sauce rolls. You can add cheese or ham, or garlic, or thyme, or olives, etc.
Do you have a bread recipe that you really love? How do you fit bread-baking into your busy lives? How did you decide to start baking your own bread?