Farmhouse White Bread
recipe from Farmgirl Fare
4 cups all-purpose flour
1½ Tablespoons instant yeast
2 Tablespoons white or brown sugar
2 Tablespoons melted butter (or your favorite neutral/mild oil)
4 cups warm milk (about 85° F)
About 6 cups bread (high gluten) flour
1½ Tablespoons salt
Mixing and Fermentation (first rise) In a very large bowl, stir together the all-purpose flour, yeast, and sugar (I use a wooden spoon).Make a small well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the melted butter and the milk.
Mix well, then continue to stir vigorously, slowly adding 1 cup of the bread flour at a time, until you've added about 4 cups and have a sticky, shaggy dough; this should take several minutes.
Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel (not terry cloth) and let it rest for 20 minutes. This rest period is called the autolyse.
Add the salt and 1 more cup of bread flour and stir it in as best you can. Add another cup of bread flour if the dough is still too sticky to knead. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead it with floured hands until the dough is soft and smooth, about 8 to 10 minutes, or knead in your Kitchen Aid mixer with the dough hook. As you're kneading, sprinkle a little more flour at a time as needed to keep it from sticking to your hands or the work surface. You want the dough to be as soft as possible without being sticky; you may not need the entire six cups of bread flour, or you may need a little extra.
Sprinkle flour in the dough bowl, place the dough in it, liberally dust it with flour, and cover it with a damp tea towel.
Set the dough somewhere that is preferably between 70°F and 75°F until it has doubled in size, about 60 to 75 minutes. Ideally, the dough itself should be between 70°F and 75°F. It's fine if your dough is cooler; it'll just take longer to rise and will end up even tastier.
When the dough is ready to be shaped, you should be able to push a floured finger deep into it and leave an indentation that doesn't spring back.
Shaping and Proofing (second rise)Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, flattening gently with your hands to break up any large air bubbles. Divide the dough into three equal pieces.
If you're using a baking stone, put it in the cold oven now and heat the oven to 375°.
Shape the dough into loaves. There are a few different ways to "shape" your loaves (another post for another day) but if you want some help, check out this post here.I rolled out one of my loaves and spread with a mixture of softened butter, cinnamon and sugar. Roll it up as you would a plain loaf. It was the "favorite" and eaten in record speed. Place the loaves seam side down in greased loaf pans and dust them with flour. I like my sandwich breads to be tall, so I use smaller loaf pans.
Cover the loaves with a damp tea towel and let them rise,until the dough springs back just a little when you gently poke it with a floured finger, about 40 to 60 minutes.
Bake at 375° for 35 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and the bottoms sound hollow if tapped (you need to carefully take a loaf out of the pan to check this). Remove the finished loaves immediately from the pans and let them cool on a wire rack. The bread will continue to bake inside while it's cooling, so try to wait at least 40 minutes before cutting into a loaf. Store at room temperature or freeze in zipper freezer bags. Make sure the loaves are completely cooled before sealing in bags.
Here is the cinnamon swirl bread, doesn't that look great?
Farmgirl Fare has a ton of great information on making bread. Although I have been baking bread for a few years, I learned a couple great tips on how to get those TALL loaves - one was to bake your loaf pans on a baking stone (I used my pampered chef pizza stone) and another was to use a smaller bread pan (one pound instead of one and half pound). I was so impressed by how great these loaves came out, I made another batch the next day :)
Even if you are new at bread baking, give this recipe a try! It is a perfect white bread recipe.