Today, like most days, was a busy one here on the homestead. We have basketball practice right after work. So it’s run around and run around some more.
Making dinner can be a challenge on those busy days. Eating out is expensive and unhealthy. Not that this menu, I am sharing today, is super healthy. However, it’s home cooked and I know everything that is in it.
One go-to recipe is my easy bread recipe. I use it to make breadsticks, garlic bread, pepperoni bread, buns, baguettes, rolls, flat bread, pizza dough and calzones. It is that versatile.
Not only can it be used for many dishes, but also, you can make it quickly and with no special equipment. If you can make a boxed cake, you can make this recipe.
Today I used leftover meatloaf to make quick sandwiches out of my bread recipe. I am a big fan of making extra meat and freezing the leftovers to use in another meal. I try to recreate something so leftovers are not boring. I rarely buy bread at the store, by the way. Why when my homemade bread is great? I love to make sandwiches, yes, but these are special sandwiches because they are made with garlic bread. I make bread, cover it in yummy garlic olive oil, slice it down the middle and fill it with my favorite items.
If you think this sandwich looks good, you should try it with Italian meats, cheeses and peppers. It makes a superb deli sandwich. Especially with the garlic seasoning on top.
There are a few things to remember with bread. You don’t want get your water too hot or you will kill your yeast. There are many rules with bread but my recipe doesn’t apply to the rules because it’s what I consider a quick bread. You are not developing a bunch of flavors like sourdough, or a chewy outside. This recipe is as basic as Chef Boyardee.
This recipe is easy to double too. It makes two small or one large loaf. Homemade bread does not have a long shelf life since it does not have all those preservatives that store bought bread has. So darn, you will need to eat it up right away. If you do have leftovers, store it in your fridge.
So lets get started.
For the dough:
1/4 cup of warm water. It should be warm but not hot.
3 tablespoons of sugar
1 packet of active dry yeast
Put all three ingredients in a bowl and let set until the yeast is bubbly. You don’t want to skip this part because this is where you find out if your yeast is good. Bubbly is good. No bubbles, then your bread will not rise properly.
The other ingredients:
3/4 cup of warm milk
2 1/2 to 3 cups of all purpose or bread flour
2 tablespoons of oil. I prefer olive oil
1 teaspoon of salt
Add the milk, oil and salt, to the yeast mixture. Gradually add the flour. Start with 2 cups and add the rest a little at a time. You want your dough to be sticky but not unmanageable. I use my mixer with a dough hook but it is not necessary. This dough does not have to be perfect but it’s better if you don’t have too much flour. If you do, it will make the dough more dry, versus soft and tender. Otherwise, if you don’t have a dough hook, you just mix it with a fork and use your hands to kneed it for a minute to make sure all the ingredients are mixed well. Again, you are not going for any special features. Just a good quick bread.
This video demonstrates what your dough should look like when it is done with a mixer. This is the perfect consistency. It sticks to the bottom but not the sides of the pan. When it looks like this, you are done with adding flour.
From this point there are multiple things you can do. I recommend letting the dough rest for at least 10 minutes. That way it softens up and it’s easier to work with. You can also let it double in size, like most recipes, but it’s really not necessary. The more you let it rise and break it back down, the more the yeast flavor develops. If you are in a hurry, it doesn’t need it. Also, there is a lot of sugar in this bread, which allows the bread to rise rather quickly. Yeast eats sugar and that is what helps it do it’s thing.
Now it is time to shape your dough. I made large squares out of mine. Almost like baguette bread but more square. I needed my meatloaf to fit perfectly on the bread. To shape the dough in a bread, you want to flatten it and roll it jelly roll style. You tuck the ends and roll.
Then you want your bread to rise. This time you do need to let it rise until doubled. While your bread rises, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Now it’s time to cook these. Put them in your 400 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes. Every oven is different.
While your bread is cooking, you want to make the garlic oil for the top. I make this oil for everything. I use it on garlic bread sticks. It’s great on calzones too. Both are made with this bread recipe. I make a container of the oil and leave it in my pantry. You don’t have to do that. You can just make it for one meal. You can also do this with melted butter. It’s really good that way but olive oil is my favorite.
I like to buy bulk ingredients at Sam’s Club. They have the best prices that I have found on olive oil, bread and all purpose flour, and yeast. This Lawry’s has bits of garlic and herbs. It makes the best garlic bread, in my opinion. It is a tiny bit more expensive but worth the extra dollar or so.
You want to use a tablespoon of garlic salt to 1/4 cup of oil or butter. Mix them up and use a pastry brush to spread it on top of your hot baked bread.
So that’s it. The hardest part is waiting for this to cool so you can eat it. You do want it to cool so that it is not gummy. It actually cooks a little while it is cooling. Breadsticks don’t make it long enough to cool but they are smaller and it’s not so bad.