This is one of those recipes.
This recipe calls for all purpose flour. No bread flour here. It makes two loaves of bread at one time, came printed out with some variant ways to make the bread AND it makes a loaf that seriously comes out better than the recipes I always followed that called for bread flour. My husband LOVES this bread and he's picky when it comes to bread :).
When we were required to go gluten free for quite a while, I was always trying to recreate this recipe with gluten free flour and it just didn't work very well. Not quite sure why (usually I've had pretty good luck when a recipe calls for AP flour to redo it with gluten free flours), but it just turns out better with the all purpose flour (luckily we've been cleared to reintroduce gluten into my daughter's diet and she's doing well with it and my issues with gluten depends on how much stress I'm under. Since starting a new system of meditation, my stomach has been doing wonders for me. It's nice being able to tolerate gluten again).
Want to get off cheap on buying AP flour? Go to your bulk stores. Seriously it is SO much cheaper there. I buy it by the 25 to 50 lb bag and store it in 5 gallon buckets in my pantry and just refill flour as needed from that.
This is seriously one recipe you are going to want to keep in your arsenal.
Basic 2 Loaf White Bread (With Variations)
- 1 cup milk
- 3 TBS sugar
- 2 tbs shortening or butter (or a mix)
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 packages (2 1/4 tsp each or 4 1/2 tsp total) active dry yeast
- 6 to 6 1/2 cups unsifted all purpose flour.
1. Heat milk in a saucepan with shortening, salt and sugar until bubbles form at the edge of the pan, the shortening is melted and the sugar is well dissolved. Transfer to a large bowl (I use the bowl of my standing mixer) to cool to warm (105 degrees F or lower).
2. I tend to use instant yeast (SAF instant yeast is well worth the investment, just store it in your freezer and you're golden) for this recipe, so if you are doing that just get your water as cold as you can from the tap and add it to your milk mixture in the standing mixer to cool it down faster. If not, wait until the mixture in the stand mixer cools to warm and then add warm temp water to your active dry yeast, add 1 TBS sugar and set aside to proof or bloom for about 5 to 10 minutes (the mixture should get really foamy).
3. When the yeast has proofed, add 6 cups of flour to the milk mixture and add the yeast mixture. Use the paddle attachment on your mixer until everything is well incorporated (add as much of your last 1/2 cup of flour as it takes to get a manageable dough) and then switch to the dough hook. Knead mixture until smooth (it only takes a couple of minutes on mine, but could take up to five, depending on your machine). You can also do this by hand by add the yeast and flour mixture to the milk and then mixing it up with your hands to form a loose dough and then kneading it on a well floured surface for 5 minutes.
4. Place dough in a greased bowl to rise and cover with a dish towel. Put in a warm location and let it rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
5. Grease two 8 inch loaf pans (I love cast iron bread pans for this). Divide dough in half (okay, I actually use the zero out function on my kitchen scale, weigh a bowl and then actually weigh my dough to get exactly 1/2 of the dough in each pan, but I'm sure you can eyeball this). Shape into two logs, fit into greased pans. Set aside in a warm location until the dough has risen at least 1" above the sides of the pan, about 45 minutes.
6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees the last 15 minutes of rise time. Bake breads 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown and loaves sound hollow when tapped on the top.
Cool at least 30 minutes before slicing.
Cheese Bread: Mix 1 cup grated cheddar cheese into the first 2 cups of flour you add to the milk mixture. Sprinkle top of loaves with grated cheese, if desired, once risen and bake as directed.
Cinnamon Swirl Bread: (my favorite. I take 1/2 of the recipe and make a loaf of white bread and take the other 1/2 and make a loaf of this. If you do this, halve the cinnamon and sugar amounts to get 1 loaf worth. Also worth noting is that the cinnamon swirl bread takes an additional 10 to 15 minutes to rise because you flatten the dough so much, so just be aware you might have to do a bit of time shuffling to figure out when to pull out what loaf).
Roll out each half of dough to 12 by 8 inch rectangle. Combine 1/4 cup (2 TBS if making 1 loaf) sugar and 2 tsp ground cinnamon (1 tsp if making one loaf) in a small bowl. Sprinkle half (or all if making one loaf) over each rectangle. Roll up dough to make two 8 inch logs. Rise and bake as directed above.