Grandma’s White Bread
Yield approximately 2½ pounds of dough.
1 ½ cups of warm water (approximately 100 degrees)
2 packages or 2 Tablespoons of active dry yeast
4 cups of unbleached flour (approximately a pound)
¼ cup of honey
1 tablespoon of salt
Note: Follow the recipe exactly the first time and you will have a great tasting loaf. However, you can adjust for your own personal tastes. You can decrease or increase the amount of salt, use one tablespoon of sugar in place of honey and/or substitute warm milk instead of water, which will produce richer bread.
HAND KNEADING: Stir the mixture with your hand or a wooden spoon until the ingredients are thoroughly blended and tend to form a ball that breaks away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough sticks to your hand to the point of making it difficult to pull away, then add more flour. If the dough feels stiff and doesn’t stick at all, then add a teaspoon of water at a time until the dough feels good. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured flat surface. Now the kneading process begins. Start with the palm of your hand pushing down away from you on the center of the dough, folding over and then turn the dough a quarter of an inch with your other hand. Continue with this process of pushing, folding and turning until the dough has a smooth, satiny elastic texture. Again, add more flour if the dough feels very sticky. Expect to knead for approximately 8-10 minutes.
MIXER KNEADING: Start with mixer on low for one minute and then increase the speed to the medium setting for approximately 4-6 minutes. With your bare hand, feel the dough, if it is sticky to the point, it is difficult to pull your hand away, add a tablespoon of flour. If the dough feels tough and not sticky at all, mix a couple of minutes longer until you reach that good dough feel.
After kneading, place the dough back in the mixer bowl, cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place for approximately one and 1/2 hours or until the dough doubles in bulk. Literally, punch the dough down with your fist. Place on a flat floured surface, shape as desired. This recipe will make one large loaf using the approximate 9 x 5 x 3 inch pan, or two smaller loaves, using the approximate 8 x 4 x 2. Place the dough in the thoroughly sprayed pans. At this time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
The dough now undergoes the second rising, which takes place in the baking pan. The dough should rise slightly above the pans. Depending on the warmth of the room and the kneading process, it should take anywhere from 15-40 minutes.
Place the pans in the middle of the pre-heated oven for 30-35 minutes. Check to see if the loaf has baked long enough by tapping the bottom of the loaf. It should be somewhat firm and sound hollow. Place on a wire rack and cool for a couple of hours before slicing. Honestly, you should wait for the bread to completely cool before slicing it, but I never could resist tearing a hunk off for immediate consumption.
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