I am a HUGE fan of bread! All the bread. Bagels. Croissants. French bread. Brioche. If there’s bread involved, I’m going to have a hard time saying ‘no’!
When I was a little girl, cold winter days (much like today) would include a snack of hot chocolate and toast, and dinner almost always included a side of butter bread. My mom never made homemade bread completely from scratch, she would by the frozen loaves that you thaw and let rise before baking. That was a HUGE treat! In my opinion, there’s nothing quite like straight from the oven bread, slathered with butter! Yum!
As an adult, I’ve been obsessed with baking my own bread, and constantly on the lookout for the perfect bread recipe! If you’re looking for an artisan style bread, you should check out this recipe. If you love bagels, try this recipe. But if you are looking for a classic white sandwich bread, keep reading! You’ll never look for another recipe!
I think a key trick to bread making is making sure the water is the right temperature and that the yeast proofs! If the water is too hot it will kill the yeast, but if the water isn’t warm enough, the yeast won’t activate. I’ve found that a candy thermometer works best to make sure the water is the right temperature, between 105 – 110. Once the yeast has proofed it will puff up, kind of like a mushroom.
Once you have the yeast proofed, I mix it up using my Kitchen Aid (BEST Christmas gift I’ve ever received), let it rise on a heat vent! The hardest part is the waiting!!!
2.5 Cups Water (between 105-110 degrees)
1 TBSP Active Dry Yeast (If you are using the packets, you will need two)
1 TBSP Sugar
6 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 tsp Salt
1/4 Cup Butter (softened and cut into chunks)
In the bowl of your mixer add 1/2 cup of the warm water with the yeast and sugar. Stir to combine and let stand for at least 5 minutes. It should bubble a bit and form a cap.
Turn the mixer on low with the dough hook attachment. Add the rest of the water and half the flour. Mix until well blended. Add the rest of the flour, the salt and the butter. Let the mixer knead the dough hook for a full 8 minutes. It will be elastic and perfect by the time it the 8 minutes is up.
Shape the dough into a ball and put in a bowl covered with a tea towel, I like to wet the towel with warm water. I think it keeps the dough moist as well as creates a bit of humidity which helps it rise. Place in a warm spot in the sun (or over a heat run) for 1.5 hours.
Spray or butter 2 bread loaf pans and set aside. Divide the dough into two balls and roll each out into a 9×12 rectangle. Starting with the short end, fold into thirds. Fold the sides under and place the bread seam side down into the pan. This will create a lovely top loaf.
Repeat with the second ball of dough.
Cover with the tea towel again and let rise in a warm place another hour
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake 30-35 minutes until golden on top. Flip out of the pan immediately and let cool.