This week something very rare happened: we ran out of sandwich bread. I know, I know, this sounds unbelievable coming from a bread-a-holic. I’ve been busy working on my latest A&E story for the Weekly, and I needed a fairly easy homemade white bread recipe that not only tasted better than store-bought bread, but could be made with my KitchenAid stand mixer with very little hands-on time. I adapted this recipe from Fun Cheap or Free:
2½ cups milk (I used lactose free dairy milk, but any kind is fine)
¼ cup butter
⅓ cup honey
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons salt
5-7 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3-5 tablespoons shortening, for greasing loaf pans
Additional 1-2 tablespoons butter, melted, for brushing onto the finished warmed loaves (optional)
1. Heat together the milk, butter and honey in the microwave until the butter is melted, about 90 seconds (cool slightly before the next step!)
2. Pour the milk mixture into a the bowl of a heavy duty stand mixer (please note, you can also do the mixing by hand, but PLEASE do not attempt to mix bread with a hand mixer! You will burn out the motor, and that would be very sad.) Use the dough hook attachment set to a medium-low speed and add the yeast, egg and salt. Gradually add enough flour to stir together to make a moderately stiff dough. Let the dough hook knead the mixture at medium-low speed for about 6 minutes, until the dough looks elastic and starts to pull from the sides of the bowl.
3. Generously grease two bread or loaf pans. I used Spectrum organic all-vegetable shortening, but use whatever shortening you have! This can be done with your clean hands…there’s no need to be delicate with this step because you want your loaves of bread to release from the pans easily. Just tell yourself that you’re giving yourself a moisturizing hand treatment *wink wink*
4. Very lightly dust your work surface with additional all-purpose flour and form/roll dough into 2 logs (loaves) and place in pans. Cover with a tea towel. Let the dough rise until double, about 45 minutes. It’s a good idea to warm your oven just slightly and let the loaves hang out in there as they rise, in case your kitchen gets chilly like mine does! Halfway through the rise, remove the loaves from your oven and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes on the middle rack, until browned on top. Invert the pans onto a wire rack or tea towel, brush the tops with a little melted butter, and let the loaves cool for at least an hour before cutting. This is probably the most difficult part, but PLEASE let the loaves cool completely or the crumb will wind up totally gummy. I had to go run errands to keep myself from getting antsy.
Now you have two loaves…but I imagine that you probably won’t go through both loaves in a week unless you have a large family. (If you are able to finish both loaves in a week, more power to you. Let’s go grab a cocktail if you’re that sort of person!)
If you’re like me and it takes you a week to finish just one loaf, keep one loaf in a zip-top bag in the fridge (no preservatives in the bread means it keeps better in the cold) and store one of loaves in a zip-top freezer bag in the freezer until you’re ready, and just defrost it when you need it. Or better yet, go make someone’s day and gift it to someone!