What is it about the smell of freshly baked bread that whets our appetites? Well, we may never know the answer to that – but at least we know we can always satisfy our craving with this simple recipe.
6 to 7 cups unbleached bread flour
2 Tbsp. butter
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cup warm water
2 packages of active dry yeast
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. salt
Small and big bowls, for mixing
Clean kitchen towel
1. Combine one cup of milk and two tablespoons of butter in a small sauce pan, over medium heat. As soon as the butter is melted, turn off the heat. Allow the mixture to cool.
2. Put 1/2 cup warm water into the small bowl. Then, slowly add the yeast. Keep stirring while you do this to keep the yeast from clumping. Once the yeast and water are thoroughly mixed together, leave the bowl for about five minutes.
3. In the meantime, get a large bowl and mix one cup of warm water with the salt and sugar.
4. Return to your small saucepan of milk and butter from step 1. If the contents are no longer hot but just warm to the touch, you can now pour the milk and butter mixture into the large bowl with the water and yeast (if the mixture is too hot, it will kill the yeast, that’s why you should wait until it’s just warm). Mix everything thoroughly.
5. You can now start adding in the unbleached bread flour, a cup at a time. You will see that by the time you add the fifth cup, the dough will be so stiff, it will be hard to keep mixing it using a wooden spoon. At this point, place the dough on a floured board and start kneading. Continue kneading the dough while adding the remaining flour little by little. Do this until the dough is no longer sticky.
6. Get another large bowl and grease it with butter. Transfer the dough into this bowl, then turn the dough over such that its top is also greased with butter. Now get a clean kitchen towel to cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise at room temperature. Wait until the dough has risen to about twice its original size. This may take approximately one hour.
7. When the bread dough has already doubled in size, punch down the dough to release trapped air. Remove from the bowl and set it onto a floured board. Then knead for about five minutes to remove the bubbles.
8. Divide the dough in two. Roll each half into a rectangle, then roll it each rectangle up like a jellyroll. Pinch the seam closed and tuck the edges under the loaf.
9. Preheat your oven to 375 °F. Get two loaf pans and grease them with butter. Some people also like to spread a thin layer of yellow cornmeal on the pans. You may certainly try this, if you wish! Put the loaves into the pans and cover again with a kitchen towel. Now wait for approximately thirty minutes to let the dough rise until it doubles in size.
10. Put the bread into the oven and bake until it’s golden brown. This often takes around 45 minutes. When you’re done baking, transfer the loaves onto a cooling rack. Wait until your bread has cooled before you cut.
And there you have it – not just one, but two loaves of freshly baked white bread. Enjoy!