My experiments in breadmaking have not been all that successful lately. I thought I would go back to square one: the simple white loaf. My husband recently purchased me a new larger loaf pan and I was excited to try it out.
Results were absolutely delicious and are being devoured as I type this:
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup of warm water
- 3-4 cups of unbleached bread flour
- Heat 1/2 cup of milk and 1 tbsp butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat when the butter is melted. Set aside to cool.
- Pour 1/4 cup of warm water into a small bowl. Slowly pour yeast into bowl while stirring. The constant stirring while adding the yeast will prevent the dry yeast from clumping. Set the bowl of yeast water aside for about 5 minutes while you work on the next 2 steps.
- In a large bowl, add sugar, salt, and 1 cup of warm water. Mix.
- Check the small saucepan of milk and butter. If the contents are warm to the touch, pour the liquid into the large bowl and mix.
- Pour the yeast water into the large bowl. It is important that the batter is warm, not boiling hot. Hot liquid, such as the milk you heated up, will kill the dry yeast and prevent the bread from rising.
- Begin mixing in the unbleached bread flour, one cup at a time. By the third cup of flour, the dough will begin to get stiff and it will be difficult to mix it with the wooden spoon. Turn dough out onto a floured board and begin to knead the dough. Continue adding more flour and kneading the flour into the dough until the dough is smooth, not sticky.
- Next, grease a large bowl with butter. Put the bread dough into the bowl and then turn the dough over so that the top of the dough is now buttered. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise at room temperature until double in size or about 1 hour.
- Punch down dough. Turn it out onto a floured board and knead out all the bubbles for about 5 minutes. Roll the dough up like a jellyroll. Pinch seam closed. Pinch and tuck edges under the loaf.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a loaf pan. Spread a light layer of yellow cornmeal on the loaf pan, if desired. Set loaf in pan, cover with kitchen towel, and allow to rise until double in size or for about a half hour.
- Bake bread for about 35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove bread from oven and turn out loaves onto a rack or a clean kitchen towel. Allow to cool before cutting.