Basic White Learning Loaf
This is the perfect loaf for mastering your bread baking skills because you see the formation of blisters when kneading.
- 2 scant tablespoons (or 2 ¼-ounce packages) active dry yeast
- ½ cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
- 2 cups warm milk or water (about 110 degrees)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or shortening
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 6 to 7 cups unbleached flour
In a large bowl, stir yeast into ½ cup water to soften. Add milk or water, oil or shortening, sugar, salt, and 3 cups flour. Beat vigorously for two minutes.
Gradually stir in flour, ¼ cup at a time, until the dough begins to pull away from the side of the bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead, adding flour a little at a time, until you have a smooth, elastic dough.
Put the dough into an oiled bowl. Turn to coat the entire ball of dough with oil. Cover with a tightly woven towel and let rise until doubled, about one hour.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface and divide in half. To shape a standard loaf, roll each half with a rolling pin into a 10 by 14-inch rectangle. This removes the excess gases and gives a more uniform texture to the finished loaves. Roll up the dough into a 10-inch cylinder, and pinch the loose edge to the loaf. Fold the ends of the loaf like a package by bringing each side into the center of the end then bringing the bottom layer of dough to the top and pinching it. Repeat with the other end of the dough and place, pinched-side down, into well-greased loaf pans. Cover with a tightly woven towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.
About 10 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the loaves reaches 190 degrees.
Immediately remove bread from pans and cool on a rack.