The original K U R T H K I T C H E N Bread.
There is a story behind this bread recipe is close to all our hearts here at Kurth Kitchen. A loaf of bread is the first thing Mr Kurth gifted me before we even started dating. Yes, a loaf of bread! No flowers or box of chocolates from this romantic — bread was a quick way to my heart! You can see why we hit it off straight away. The original recipe is still on a little recipe card tucked away in his mother’s recipe card box in the back of the antique kitchen cupboard.
The story stems from my husband’s early business sense and calculations that feeding chickens and selling the eggs was not a profitable business model — the chickens ate more feed than they could produce sellable eggs! The other idea of mowing lawns for pocket money was too much like hard work and only feasible when there wasn’t snow on the ground. Hmm, so he thought why not bake hundreds of loaves of bread each weekend and hand deliver them to neighbours and friends? So that’s what he did!
This post may seem a little contradictory given that a lot of the recipes I post or talk about are gluten free. I personally eat gluten and dairy free for health reasons and our family meals are 95% gluten and dairy free. For me, it’s a real struggle in my head that whilst I believe and FEEL that a gluten free diet serves me well and I understand the benefits of it — my kids and husband still eat wheat/gluten/dairy products. So to soften the blow, we try and make our own bread most weeks then at least we know what goes into each loaf, we can use high quality ingredients and we can name all the real ingredients in this bread. It also means we can use a mix of flours and step away from the 100% white or white wholemeal loaves found in the supermarket. But most of all, I feel that being able to make a loaf of bread is one of those life skills that we should teach to our kids. Back to basics!
We’ve also been experimenting with different flour mixes often including Kamut, Wholemeal and Rye. We love trying to use more Kamut which is an ancient grain different to the modern day GMO wheat that we find readily available today. Although it still contains gluten, it is more easily digestible to some people with wheat sensitivities. It is higher in protein and nutrients compared to most modern wheat, but don’t forget — it’s still a processed grain when used as a flour. Kurth Kitchen bread recipes also work well for rainbow bread (more on that below), bread rolls, mini loaves, free-form loaves, cinnamon swirl bread, etc., and can be adapted for wholemeal or mixed grain bread.
Now, first I want to say: Don’t be scared of the yeast. It’s one of those ingredients that takes practice, experimenting and a little experience. You’ve got to get to know it and understand how it works in your kitchen temperature and with your source ingredients — as these will all be a little different to mine, so find out what works best for you. As my new ‘friend’ (I use that term very loosely) June Blereau once said, recipes should be used as a guide not a set task list. You have to use your intuition and work with the ingredients you have, understanding how they react in each situation. The skill to do this comes from practice and experience.
I’ve tried to be comprehensive here and include step by step photos and videos to show you what you are looking for with the yeast and dough, but again you’ll need to use some judgement based on your conditions. This is the basic white loaf, so practice with this first and then once you are feeling more confident, then I’ve given some guidelines below on how to change it up with different ingredients to make it your own secret recipe!
Yeast — this is how yeast should look if it’s healthy and active when added to warm water:
Kneading — there is an art to kneading some types of bread like sourdough, but this dough is pretty forgiving. You’ll want to make sure you fold over from all sides or fold and rotate 90 degrees and continue. Knead for approximately 10 minutes until the dough is all smooth and springy to touch. Poke it gently with your finger and if the spot that you poked bounces back into shape then it’s done. If you are using a mixer like the KitchenAid, then you can mix all your ingredients together and add 90% of the flour leaving it to incorporate and knead with the dough hook, but then I find it better to incorporate the remainder of the flour on the bench by hand finishing it off.
This is how the bread dough should proof (or rise) if in the right conditions. This process normally takes approximately 1 hour depending on the temperature and humidity. You are aiming for a dough that doubles in size from when you put it in the bowl.
Punching the bread down — go on, give it a good punch! Once the dough has risen, then it’s time to punch it down and turn it out to shape into a loaf.
Turn it out of the bowl then shape into a loaf tin or on a baking tray. You want to fold over all the loose edges into one spot so as to create a smooth upper surface and all the seam sides down and tucked away on the bottom of the loaf.
Kurth Kitchen Bread - Basic White Loaf
This recipe is for 2 loaves. Half below ingredients for 1 loaf, but it’s the same workload and double the reward if you just make two!
- ½ cup warm water
- 1 Tbsp or 1 packet instant dried yeast
- 2 Tbsp butter, melted
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 Tbsp sea salt
- 2 Tbsp white sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 6 cups all-purpose flour, preferably organic (or substitute 2 cups with wholemeal or kamut flour)
Mix ½ cup warm water (ideally 105°F/40°C which should feel a little warmer than the temperature as your finger, not too hot to the touch) with 1 packet or 1 Tbsp active dry yeast in a large bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes until the yeast dissolves and starts to activate. See video above on what this should look like.
Meanwhile, in a medium sized bowl, melt 2 Tbsp butter in the microwave for 20 seconds. Add 1 cup hot water, 1 Tbsp salt, and 2 Tbsp sugar. Stir the hot mixture to dissolve the salt and sugar.
Add 1 cup cold milk to the hot mixture and stir. Then add the warm liquid mixture from the medium bowl into the large bowl and stir together with the yeast. Add 2 cups all-purpose white flour and stir or use the dough hooks in your mixer — lumps are okay. Add 2 more cups of flour and stir for a few minutes.
Add roughly 2 more cups of flour, but add it slowly. Once it’s too difficult to stir, begin kneading by hand either in the bowl or on a floured board. Work the rest of the flour in and knead for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and springy, but there is no loose flour in it. It should feel like a smooth rubber ball of dough when it’s finished. The more kneading, the better.
In a clean bowl, add approximately 1 tsp of olive oil and then roll your ball of bread dough in the bowl to lightly coat in olive oil, and put the dough in the bowl seam side down. Cover with cling film and rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Grease 2 loaf tins with butter.
Once doubled in size, punch the dough down (literally punch it!) and remove from the bowl to a cutting board. Cut the dough into two even pieces and knead each piece once or twice lightly to shape it into a loaf. Be careful not to over-knead it. Place each into the loaf pan, seam side down so the top is smooth. Cover with a light towel and let rise in a warm place. They’ll take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to rise and almost double in size.
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F/175°C.
When they are nicely rounded and slightly above the top of the tin, they’re ready for baking. Remember they will rise more in the oven. Place gently in the center rack of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. When they come out, they should be golden brown, and when you remove the tins, tapping the bottom of the loaf will sound slightly hollow. This means they are done.
Remove them from the tins right after baking and place on cooling racks. Brush a thin layer of melted butter on the top to give them a nice shine and soften the crust (optional). Do not bag them until they have cooled for 3+ hours to prevent them from getting soggy in the bag.
The bread will stay fresh for a few days. If you don’t expect to finish it that quickly, cool on a cooling rack then slice it and freeze it in slices in a bag, perfect for removing one or two slices when you need them. Pop a frozen slice in the toaster for fresh tasting toast whenever you feel like it — it’ll keep in the freezer for months.
Sugar – you can swap out the white sugar for honey, molasses, maple syrup. We’ve not tried stevia or other sweeteners.
Milk – non dairy milk also works fine. We’ve used almond milk and almond/coconut milk before with no issues.
Flour – rather than 6 cups of white flour, you can substitute 2 cups (or up to 3 cups with some liquid alterations) for an alternative flour like kamut, wholemeal, spelt or a little rye. Just keep an eye on the texture of the dough as you may not need a full 6 cups of flour when using wholemeal or kamut as they absorb the liquid well.
Rainbow Bread – To create rainbow bread use the basic recipe above, but when doing the first knead you will need to separate the dough into 4-5 balls once the mixture comes together. Add gel food colouring to each one and knead well to distribute the colouring and kneading the bread. Prove in 4-5 smaller separate bowls with olive oil as per above instructions. After the first proving, shape each smaller dough ball into a rectangle as long as the length of your bread tin. Then stack the layers on top of each other, roll them with a rolling pin or squish them together a little so air pockets don’t get in and separate the layers. Once pushed together, start at the long edge and roll the dough tightly together into a log shape. Lift gently into the greased bread pan with the seam side down and prove again and bake as per the above instructions.
May the smell of fresh bread engulf your kitchen and enchant your noses … as it does ours!