I do not buy bread from the store because there are SO many things in it I cannot pronounce. In my opinion, that means it cannot be good for you! So, I make bread about twice a week. I make two loaves at a time, because the first loaf usually doesn’t make it longer than 24 hours before being torn apart by my boys! I usually make white bread, and one yummy bread (cheddar jalapeno, garlic parmesan, parmesan cracked pepper, etc.) depending on what’s for dinner! This recipe can be modified to make wheat bread by substituting some of the white flour for whole wheat flour.
I mix by hand, starting out with a hand mixer. In a very large bowl, add 3 C very warm water, 1.5 T dry active yeast, 1/4 C sugar, and 2.5 C flour. Mix for about 1-2 minutes to make sure everything is incorporated fully. It will be runny!
Then add 1/2 C oil (I use EVOO), 1/2 C flour, and 1 tsp salt. Mix for about 2 minutes.
After this, I drop my hand mixer and just dig right in! You will add another 3-5 cups of flour, one cup at a time mixing by hand.It is tough, but this is the way I do it. Depending on lots of things, (humidity, where you live) you will have to add more or less flour here. You want the dough to not be sticky anymore, it needs to be a nice ball. Once it collects nicely into a ball, I take the dough out of the bowl and knead it on the counter for about 5 minutes. Once it is nice and uniform, you will put it in a greased bowl and cover it with a damp kitchen towel.
It will take about 30-45 minutes to rise, depending on how hot your kitchen is. This is a good time to pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Once it doubles in size, you will punch down the dough and split it into two equal balls. Get the rolling pin out and roll the dough out into a flat square-ish shape. I use a rolling pin, because it ensures that all the bubbles have gone out of the dough. You can actually hear them popping as you are rolling it out, kinda fun 🙂 Then you can either just roll it back up (like you would cinnamon rolls) or braid it. To braid it, I roll the dough out in a squar-ish shape, then cut it (not all the way to the top) in three sections, then braid them all together. If you are going to add anything yummy, now would be the time. I like to roll out the dough and add cinnamon and sugar, or parmesan cheese and roll it up that way, or you can braid the ingriedents in. Then you will put the dough into two pre-greased bread pans, and re-cover them with the towel. Let them rise for about 15 more minutes. Then put the pans into the oven and cook for 30 minutes.
Ta-daa! Bread! Yum 🙂