Not many people know that one of my favorite things to bake is bread. There is just something about the smell of yeast, the feel of the elastic dough, the aroma of freshly baked bread, and the thrill of slicing into a loaf of bread you made with your own hands; no preservatives added!
This recipe is for a simple loaf of white bread. But it is the perfect beginning for those that are new to making bread from scratch. And no, making bread in a machine doesn’t count… =)
-2 1/2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees)
-1 tablespoon active dry yeast
-1 tablespoon sugar
-7 cups flour (bread flour works best, but all-purpose works too)
-1 tablespoon salt
-1/4 cup softened butter
Pour 1/2 cup of the water into a bowl and mix in the yeast and sugar until foamy. Let this mixture stand for 5 minutes until it becomes creamy. Add the rest of the water and 3 1/2 cups of the flour into the mix and combine (I prefer to do all the mixing with my hands/ It helps prevent overmixing).
Combine completely then add the rest of the flour. Knead until dough comes together, adding a tablespoon of flour until it does. Add the salt and knead for 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and feels elasticy.
Introduce butter into dough 1 tablespoon at a time (dough may separate but will come back together with some kneading). Shape dough into a ball and place into a buttered bowl. Turn dough so it is totally coated in butter and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel for an hour or until it has doubled in size. (Do this step at room temperature. If the air around the dough is too hot, it could kill the yeast and your dough won’t rise)
Using non stick spray, butter, or shortening, grease and flour 2 loaf pans. Punch down the dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and cut in half. Roll each half into a 9 X 12-inch rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds or roll, starting with the short end. Pinch the seam closed and pinch the ends.
Place the roll into the loaf pan (seam side down!), do this with both rolls. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise again (room temp) until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 375 (make sure the rack is in the center of the oven). Bake for 35-40 minutes until they are golden brown.
Immediately turn out of loaf pans and place on cooling rack. Do not slice your bread until it is completely cool (even though it will be incredibly tempting).