Sometimes your mind does funny things when looking for recipes. Months ago I emailed my Mom and asked for my Grandmothers white bread recipe. My Dad use to make it all the time and everyone (or at least everyone I’ve ever talked to) agrees that homemade bread is FAR superior to store bought. Anyway, Mom never sent it. So I searched and searched for a recipe that was simple enough to make with minimal ingredients and was something I thought was similar to my Grandmother’s recipe. I stumbled across a recipe for Amish White Bread which I thought was as close as I would get and happily (although lacking the nostalgia of being able to recreate my Grandmother’s recipe) settled on it to use.
Then last week I asked my Mom for my Grandmother’s Sticky Bun recipe. She didn’t send that either but my sister did (thank God for sisters)! Guess what? It was Grandma’s bread recipe with notes scribbled in the margins about cinnamon, sugar and butter! Turns out, it was exactly the same recipe I found online with marginally less sugar. I’m pretty sure I did a happy dance right there in Macy’s. Now I can have my bread and eat it too!
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. Making bread really is simpler than you think, even without a bread machine. I had a bread machine at one point and trust me, there simply is no comparison.
So here is what you need to make 2 large loaves:
6 cups bread flour
½ cup white sugar
1 ½ Tbs dry active yeast (I like Red Star jarred yeast)
2 cups warm/hot water
¼ cup oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
The first thing you want to do is proof your yeast. Heat 2 cups of water in the microwave until it is hot enough to be uncomfortable to stick your finger in for longer than a few seconds. Not painful. Uncomfortable. Please don’t scald yourself. If you prefer to take the water temp, it should be about 110 degrees. Dissolve your sugar in the water and sprinkle the yeast in the mix. Give it a few gentle stirs to mix it up and let it set until foamy, about 10 minutes. The foamier it is the better.
TIP: One of the most life changing things anyone has told me when I was too scared use yeast because it always failed was: Yeast Eats Sugar! So if for some reason your yeast isn’t foaming, make sure you added *enough* sugar and that your yeast is still good.
While the yeast is proofing sift your flour and add the salt. Also, if you are like me and keep your house AC set below 72 degrees, preheat your oven to 200. If the AC is below 70, bump it up to 250.
If you have a stand mixer, the next part is so much easier but if not that’s perfectly fine. I doubt my Grandmother had a Kitchen Aid mixer and everything she did turned out beautifully. Whisk about half of the flour and all of the oil into the yeast mix. Keep whisking until fully combined. If you’re using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment for the same effect.
If you are doing this by hand, this is the messy/workout part. Using your hands, incorporate the rest of the flour until you get a solid dough ball. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is soft and smooth. If it looks sticky and lumpy, keep kneading. This should take about 6-8 minutes by hand. Use extra flour if needed to keep it from sticking to your hands. If you are using a mixer, switch to the dough hook and knead for 5 minutes once the flour is incorporated.
TIP: To knead dough, fold it over towards you, then with the heel of your hand push the dough away from you. Fold the dough towards you again and repeat.
Oil the inside of a bowl, place your dough inside and flip once. This keeps your dough from sticking when you try to take it out. Cover the bowl with a warm, damp towel and place on your stove with the oven still on. Let rise for 1 hour.
Punch the dough down and knead for another 4-6 minutes by hand. Divide the dough equally into 2 portions and shape into loaves. Place in large, lightly greased bread pans and cover loosely with saran wrap. Allow to rise at least another hour, or until desired fullness is reached (I usually let mine rise another 2-2.5 hours).
Gently remove the pans from the stove top and increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Just as gently, peel the saran wrap off the loaves. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Once you take it out of the oven, thump it with a wooden spoon or your fingers. It should sound hollow. If it doesn’t, bake it a few minutes longer. Turn the loaves out onto a cooling rack immediately so they don’t get soggy.
Isn’t it pretty? I can smell it through the photos!
Here’s the printable!
How did you do? Let me know in the comments!