This is my hands down, absolute, favorite bread ever. I promise.
Here's the back story. When I got married, well... I couldn't cook very well. Shocking I know, but it's true.
My dear husband grew up with his mom making bread every morning. I'm serious. She had fresh bread coming out of the oven every morning in time for all 12 of the kids to eat breakfast before school. Needless to say, she is really good at it.
When I joined the family, I had to go to bread making lessons from my mother-in-law. Since then I've done some tweaking and improved my abilities.
Now, my husband says mine is better than hers. Really.
The recipe is mostly hers, but the method is mine. I hope you love it as much as we do.
Grammie's White Bread
I use a Bosch Mixer. If you have a Kitchen-Aid, you'll have to half the recipe. It won't fit.
5 cups warm-hot water (it's ok if it's hot, the yeast will be OK)
2/3 cup oil or apple sauce (if you are trying to cut calories, use applesauce. Also measure the oil/applesauce first in your measuring cup, then the honey. It will be easier to get out)
1 cup sugar or honey (I've used either one and personally I like the honey flavor better)
2 Tbsp salt
2/3 cup powdered milk (regular or instant)
It will look like this:
Next sprinkle about 3 cups of flour on top of the liquid. Then add 3 Tbsp yeast on top of the flour like this:
Mix for about a minute, cover and let stand for another 2-3 minutes until it gets bubbly like this:
Now turn on mixer and add, one cup of flour at a time while the mixer is going.
Note: I use regular old flour. I have used bread flour with similar results. It will take about 10-12 cups flour, depending on the ambient humidity.
Continue to add flour until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl.
Then add about 1/3 to 1/2 cup more flour.
Put the lid on and mix for 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic-y.
Put the cover back on, but loosely. Let rise until it loks like this.
Good for bread, not for your jeans.
When it has risen, spray your bread pans with cooking spray. Mine came from IKEA years ago. I love the long narrow loaf it makes. Perfect for sandwiches and sandwich bags.Turn the dough out on to a well floured surface. Divide it into 4 equal balls. Some people weigh their dough to get the perfect amount. I just eye-ball it and it turns out fine.
(one less step)
Knead each ball a little to get the air bubbles out and form into a loaf shape. Then place loaf into pan. Cover them with plastic wrap. This helps keep the crust soft.
Let rise until it's about 1 inch about the lip of the pan like this.
Then turn on your oven to 400 degrees and let it pre-heat. When it's done pre-heating, place your pans in the oven and turn down the temperature to 325 degrees. Remember to turn it down or your bread will be too brown. Bake for 35 minutes.
Remove and place on racks to cool. Brush tops with shortening and let cool. (the shortening helps keep a soft crust, if you like a crispy crust, omit this step)
Slice, slather with butter, and taste a little bit of HEAVEN!
(notice there are no pictures of the sliced bread with butter. It couldn't hold still long enough for me to get the camera)