Basic White Bread
A good recipe for basic white bread, great for sandwiches, toast, meal accompaniment, etc.
6 cups all-purpose or unbleached flour*
1/2 cup dry milk (optional)
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar or honey
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons softened butter, vegetable shortening or oil
5 teaspoons active dry yeast or 2 (0.25-ounce) packets active dry yeast
2 cups very warm water (120°F to 130°F | 50°C to 55°C)
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together 3 1/3 cups of the flour with the next 5 ingredients. Add the warm water. Beat on low speed of an electric mixer for 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Increase speed to medium and beat for 1 minute. Stir in remaining flour.
- Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead dough for 5 minutes then let rest for 5 minutes. Again knead dough an additional 5 minutes or until dough feels smooth and elastic. Place in a large, well-greased bowl and flip dough to turn greased-side up. Cover and let rise in a warm place (free of drafts) for 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Stick your finger in the center, if an indention remains, the dough is ready.)
- Punch down dough and divide in half. Form into 2 loaves and place (seam-side down) into 2 greased loaf pans**. Cover, and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Place oven rack in a position that allows the tops of the pans to be centered in the oven. Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).
- Bake loaves for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden browned and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from oven and immediately remove bread from pans. (Brush with melted butter if a softer crust is desired.) Cool loaves completely on a wire rack.
Makes 2 loaves.
*Self-rising flour can be substituted, but omit the salt.
**9 x 5 x 3-inch pans or 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch pans.
Note: Flour changes with the weather, absorbing moisture when the humidity is high in the summer, and becoming drier when the humidity is low in winter months. This is good to know when it appears one's bread dough isn't quite right and how to remedy it. Simply put, if the bread dough appears too dry once all ingredients are incorporated, add a small amount of liquid. The same goes if the dough appears too wet and sticky, a small amount of flour added corrects the situation.