Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Homey (Country) White Bread
The last few weeks, I've used this recipe for the Communion loaf, and I think I'm sticking with it. The texture is soft and tender, the flavor is somewhat sweet with a hint of buttery richness (even though it contains no butter), and, very importantly, the crust is soft enough for Elder Jones to break the loaf without popping a blood vessel. I like to eat this bread by the handful.
2 packages (1/4 oz. each) active dry yeast (about 4 and 1/2 teaspoons)
2 cups warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 eggs beaten, room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 1/2 to 7 cups flour, divided (I use a 50/50 mixture of all-purpose and bread flour)
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast, sugar, and salt in warm water. Let sit to proof (until foamy on top). In a large bowl, combine eggs and oil. Add yeast mixture to this, and stir in about half the flour until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. The dough will be extremely soft and sticky, and you can add extra flour, as needed, but use as little as possible in order to handle it. (Although I love to knead bread, for this recipe, I use the dough hook on my stand mixer, so that it can be kneaded without adding too much extra flour.) If you don't have a stand mixer with a dough hook, turn onto a floured surface and knead by hand until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.
Place in a greased bowl; turn once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about one hour.
Punch dough down. Divide in half and shape into two loaves (see below). Place in two greased 9x5x3 loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about one hour. Bake in 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown and hollow-sounding when thumped on the bottom. If they don't sound hollow, pop them in for a few more minutes. If they begin to brown too much on the tops before they're done, loosely tent them with aluminum foil.
To shape loaves:
To create evenly-rounded loaves (using a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface), roll each ball of dough into a roughly 12-inch x 8-inch rectangle (you may hear air bubbles pop as you do this). Dust off any loose flour clinging to the dough, and, beginning at the short end, tightly roll up each rectangle. Pinch the seam and the ends to seal. Place seam side down in bread pans.
Gobbled by Abigail on 11/07/2006