Homemade White Bread, fresh from the oven
One of the easiest things to make if I know people are coming for a visit is homemade white bread. I haven't met many people yet who don't love a slice of bread fresh from the oven with REAL Wisconsin butter on it. And even though I usually eat gluten free, I cannot resist a crust of that bread, even if only a quarter of an inch thick, with melted butter. There's nothing like it.
And because it's so easy to make, I thought I'd post the recipe. I think I did this quite some time ago, but who wants to look back through the archives.
Homemade White Bread Recipe:
(Baked at 400 degrees for 24 minutes) I use four 4x8 loaf pans. I always make the recipe for four loaves because any more than that won't fit in my KitchenAid mixing bowl and do an adequate job of kneading.
6 T. real Wisconsin butter
4 c. whole milk
6 T. sugar
4 t. salt
4 pkts. dry yeast
10 1/2 c. flour (I use bread flour)
(So easy to memorize: All 6's and 4's, except for the flour)
For now: Preheat oven to 100 degrees. (Later you'll preheat it to 400, for baking)
Set mixing bowl in the oven to get it warm. (Mine is a stainless steel KitchenAid bowl.)
In a large saucepan on the stove, melt the butter. Stir in the quart of whole milk and keep on a low burner, stirring, until the milk is about 98 degrees, slightly warm. Stir in sugar and salt. Bring to temperature and sprinkle yeast on top of the milk mixture.
Remove warm mixing bowl from the oven. Take milk mixture off the stove and pour into the mixing bowl, stirring in about 3 cups of the flour.
Set mixing bowl on the mixer and use the dough hook on the Low setting to mix in the remaining flour, a little at a time, until the dough pulls from the sides of the mixing bowl and makes a nice elastic dough ball. It might take a little less than the total amount called or, or it might take slightly more. You don't want the dough to be tough or dry, but also not so moist that it sticks to your hands.
Turn out the dough ball onto the counter and knead by hand a few more minutes. I'm not sure that this is necessary, but it is nice and somewhat therapeutic to feel that lovely dough in your hands.
Grease a large stainless steel bowl and place the dough ball upside down in the bowl to get it greased, (Crisco shortening works great; butter will make it stick!) then turn it right side up, cover with a thin cloth, and place back in the 100 degree oven until the dough is about double in size. You could, of course, place it in any warm place out of drafts, rather than in the oven).
Punch dough ball to get the air out, then divide it into four equal parts, forming a loaf from each and placing the loaf into a well greased 4 x 8 bread pan. Set those four pans into the 100 degree oven to rise until dough is about 1/4" above the lip of the pan.
Gently remove unbaked loaves from the oven and gently place them on the counter while the oven preheats to 400 degrees.
When the oven is ready, space the loaves evenly in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 24 minutes. As soon as the timer goes off, turn the loaves out onto a baking rack and get out a stick of butter. We're talking REAL butter here, no artificial stuff. I like to butter the crust immediately so that it's tender and glistens.
Wait a little bit before slicing with a good bread knife. Plan on this stuff going fast to all the eager takers - which, in my experience, includes just about everyone.
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