We are finally starting to show some signs of fall here in our neck of the woods. Our patience with the heat has finally been rewarded as the temps have finally dipped into the 60s – I might as well break out my blankets and firewood! I don’t know about you, but cooler weather always makes me want to bake! I love baking fresh bread, but until I figured out the right recipe, I wasn’t always successful. I won’t say any recipe for bread is fail-proof, but if you follow my hints here, you’ll be able to claim some bread baking success for yourself. I highly recommend baking this recipe when you have people to share it with, otherwise you may end up suffering an extra full belly and carb overload. ~Tracy
~½ cup warm water (you can use a thermometer to make sure it’s around the 100-110 degree mark)
~2 packets quick acting yeast (I use Fleishmann’s Rapid Rise)
~1 tsp. granulated sugar
~1 ½ c. whole milk (also warmed to around 100 – 110 degrees)
~7 T. melted butter, cooled to room temperature
~1 ½ t. honey
~2 egg yolks, preferably from large eggs (reserve one of the egg white to use as a wash for loaf tops)
~5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
~1 T. salt
- Butter two 9 x 5 loaf pans and set aside.
- Add yeast and sugar to warm water. I’ve discovered the best way to keep your water warm so that the yeast can work its magic is to set the bowl on a warm heating pad. Use a metal or glass bowl to better conduct the warmth. Allow the yeast/water mixture to sit for around 5 minutes.
- It’s best to use an electric stand mixer with a dough hook for breads. If you don’t have a stand mixer many electric hand mixers also come with a dough hook attachment.
- Warm the bowl of your stand mixer by running the outside/bottom of the bowl under warm water for a few minutes. Add your yeast mixture, warm milk, butter, and honey to the bowl. Mix until blended.
- Add egg yolks, 3 ½ cups of the flour, and the salt. Mix on low speed for 5 minutes.
- Leave your mixer on low and add 2 more cups of flour. You can then raise your mixer speed to medium.
- Slowly add the rest of the flour until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. It will still be a tad sticky but should begin to form a ball in the middle of your bowl. Remember, you can always add more flour, but you can’t take it out, so add slowly.
- Knead the mixture on medium speed for 8 minutes (I recommend setting a timer). You can add a few more sprinkles of flour as necessary.
- Dump the dough onto a floured surface and knead by hand (folding the dough over onto itself) for another minute or two.
- Place the bowl into a large buttered bowl. Using a metal or glass bowl is recommended. Cover the bowl with a thin damp towel (such as a tea towel) and place it in a warm location. I have found that setting the bowl on your warm heating pad works best. Remember to make sure your heating pad doesn’t automatically turn itself off after a few minutes like mine does.
- Leave the bread to rise in the bowl for approximately 1 hour until it seem to be about double in size.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it in half. I simply cut down the middle of it with a knife.
- Put each half in a prepared loaf pan. Cover again with the damp towel. Place the pans back on the heating pad and allow to rise once more until they have approximately doubled in volume.
- Gently beat one of the egg whites that you reserved earlier and very lightly brush the top of the loaves with egg white.
- Place the pans in the center of an oven preheated to 350 degrees.
- Bake until the loaves are golden brown – about 40 to 45 minutes.
- Turn out of pans and allow to cool before slicing – if you can wait that long, but I never can.