Tuesday, March 17, 2009
I've made lots of bread in my lifetime and found that different recipes are good for different reasons; some stale slowly and slice well for sandwiches, some are rich like rolls, some are eggy and great for bread pudding, BUT this recipe is just all around the best. The texture is light but substantial, the taste is full and the crust is crunchy and slightly crisp. The ingredients are simple: flour, sugar, salt, yeast, but there is a secret. After kneading the dough in the mixer you add 1/2 cube of soft butter. That's it. I promise you'll love this bread.
White Loaves (adapted from Baking with Julia)
Pour 1/2 c. warm water (like 100 degrees, think really hot bath water. It's hard to get it to hot if you are getting it out of the tap.) into mixer. Add 1 T. active dry yeast and 1 T. sugar. Let sit until creamy, about 5 minutes. Add additional 2 c. warm water.
Add 6 c. white flour and 1 T. salt. Mix with dough hook, slowly at first and then on a medium speed once flour is incorporated. If the dough does not come together, add more flour, 1 T. at a time. (I usually end up using 6 1/2-7 c. of flour total). Mix for 10 minutes. Add 4 T. butter, a tablespoon at a time. The dough will come apart as you add the butter, but keep beating, it will come back together. When butter is fully incorporated, remove bowl from mixer, cover with a towel and let rest for 1 hour.
Punch down dough, divide into two pieces. On counter roll into a rectangle about 9x12, roll up and place, seam side down into bread pan. Place in cold oven and let rise 1 hour.
Turn oven on to 375. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until browned and the loaves sound hollow when tapped. Remove from oven and immediately remove from pans. Let them cool on wire racks so crust crisps on all sides (if you set it on the counter it will sweat and the bottom will turn soggy).
Once completely cool, keep bread in brown paper bag or wrap airtight and freeze.