This bread is great all by itself, or for making sandwiches. If any survives for more than a couple of days it makes great cream cheese stuffed strawberry french toast (that recipe is for another day).
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Updated 11/23/18 – This was one of my first blog posts and I realize I was a bit stingy on the photos for the process so more have been added.
- 1 Cup hot water (from the tap, not boiling)
- 1 Cup warm milk (about a minute in the microwave works well)
- 2/3 Cup sugar
- 2 Tablespoons yeast
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons salt
- 1/4 Cup vegetable oil (I use Crisco)
- 5-6 Cups bread flour (I use Pillsbury)
- 2-3 Tablespoons of butter for top of bread when baked
- Put hot water, sugar and yeast in a mixing bowl.
- Whisk to blend. Wait 5-10 minutes for yeast to get frothy. TIP: I warm the mixing bowl first by running hot tap water in it for a few seconds. This helps prevent your recipe water from cooling and slowing down the yeast action.
- Add milk, oil and salt. At this point I put the dough hook (looks like a giant cork screw) in my stand mixer and raise the bowl. If you don’t have a stand mixer you can use the dough hook in an electric mixer or use a stiff spoon for the next part)
- With the mixer on speed 2, I start adding flour about 1/2 cup at time. Allow time for the flour to work into the wet mix before adding more.
- Keep adding flour until the dough starts to pull away from the side of the mixing bowl (should not take more the 6 Cups, maybe a little less). I usually have to stop the mixer 2-3 times and scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything mixes evenly.
- Turn the mixer up to speed 3 and let the dough knead for 10-15 minutes. This will seem like a noisy eternity, but it is critical. If you cut this short the dough will not be stretched enough and will not rise nice and fluffy. (If you don’t have a mixer, you will have to knead the dough by hand for a good 10 minutes. Think of it as cross-training.)
- Dust the dough with a little flour so you can handle it and scrape it out of the bowl.
- Form into a big ball and coat it with oil. Put it back in the bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out.
- Put it in a warm place to rise for about an hour until it doubles in size. Tip: This is where my early attempts at baking bread failed terribly. Yeast needs to be warm and cozy to make the bread rise. I have found the method that works best for me is to put drinking glasses about 3/4 full of water in the corners of the microwave and heat them for 2-3 minutes. Leave the glasses of water in the microwave and put the covered bowl of bread in the center of the microwave with the now hot water and close the door. Just don’t run the microwave with the bread in there!
- Once the bread has doubled in size, punch it down and turn the dough out on a floured surface. Divide into two equal pieces. Pat it out by hand and then roll it into a small loaf shape. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
- Prep two loaf pans by spraying with cooking spray and dusting with flour. Put one loaf in each pan and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Place in a warm place to rise until the dough is just above the top of the pan. (I use the microwave/water trick again). This can take 30-60 minutes depending on the temperature.
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Remove the plastic wrap and place the pans in the oven. Bake for 40-50 minutes until golden brown on top.
- Remove the bread from the oven and immediately rub butter on the top of the loaves while they are still hot.
- Cool for 5-10 minutes in pans then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Once the bread has cooled completely cover with plastic wrap or put in an airtight container so it doesn’t dry out.
To be fair, my first attempts at baking bread were not photo worthy. I learned the hard way you have to knead the dough a long time to stretch the gluten the or the bubbles formed by the yeast escape and the bread falls flat 🙁 You also have to have a warm humid place for the dough to rise. If it is too cool it won’t rise at all or rise so slowly that it will dry out and ruin the bread. I promise, you can do this. Learn from my mistakes and hopefully you will be successful much sooner than I was. Oh yeah, the house will smell amazing when you bake bread.
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