You'd think I was baking bread for Thanksgiving since it's tomorrow. But, no, I'm baking bread because we need it. Plus I love homemade.
I've been looking through various recipes, both in Mom's cookbooks and online, and I decided to try one from a very old Betty Crocker cookbook called "Perfect White Bread". So the credit for this recipe goes to them. The instructions are mine.
5-3/4 to 6-1/4 cups bread flour (I used 5-3/4 cups)
1 package active dry yeast
2-1/4 cups milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon margarine
2 teaspoons salt
I began by activating the dry yeast in the milk (warmed) and the sugar. I allowed it to proof for about five minutes while I worked with the dry ingredients.
I poured 5-3/4 cups of flower into a large bowl, added the salt and melted margarine. When the yeast was foaming I added the liquid to the flour and stirred it with a large spoon. I then dumped it onto a lightly floured pastry cloth and kneaded it by hand for 10 minutes. The small amount of flour I used to dust the cloth was in addition to what I used in the recipe.
Here's what the dough looks like at this point.
I then placed the dough back in the bowl (washed) which I first rubbed with vegetable oil. I turned the dough once so that both sides were lightly coated with oil. The first rise takes about an hour and, because our kitchen is cold, I turn the oven on and then back off ... just enough to warm it. I let the first rise happen in the oven. I covered the bowl with a damp cloth (shown).
After an hour, the picture above shows how the dough has doubled in size.
I knock the dough down, knead it again for a few minutes, then divide it in half and form it into two oblong loaves. I've lightly oiled each pan since the dough will be baked in them after rising for another hour.
The picture above is after an hour's rise. Because I'm heating the oven I can't use it for the second rise so I've placed both pans on top of our Eden Pure heater. The top doesn't get warm but the area around the heater (which is on, of course) is much warmer than the rest of the kitchen.
Then, when the dough looks as pictured it goes into a 375° oven for 45 minutes. I add a pan of boiling water to the oven (on a rack beneath the bread) to keep the crust soft while it further rises.
Time's up. Here's how the loaves look right out of the oven ... hot and yeasty good.
After a few minutes I knocked both loaves out of their pans to cool. Since the pan was oiled, the loaves fall right out.
Here's Mom making a first slice and testing the bread. Excellent!