Yield: 36 servings
|½ cup||Butter; or shortening|
|2 packs||Active dry yeast|
|⅓ cup||Warm water|
|¼ cup||Molasses, honey, or brown su|
|8 cups||Unbleached all-purpose flour|
Recipe by: Alison Meyer In a saucepan, heat the milk and butter over a low flame until the milk is scalded (brought just short of boiling). Set aside to cool. If quick cooling is necessary, fill a bowl with ice water and set the saucepan inside, stirring milk mixture until lukewarm, no cooler. (baby bottle temperature.) In a mixing bowl, dissolve the sugar and yeast in the water. Set in a warm place for 20 minutes, until a sponge is formed.
Add the milk, eggs, molasses or brown sugar, and salt, and mix. Add flour a cup at a time until dough is stiff enough to work by hand.
Turn dough out onto a floured board and knead until elastic (until dough stops coming off on your hands!) Grease the inside of a large bowl, put the dough in, then turn the dough to coat the top with grease. Cover bowl with a wet tea towel (not dripping, just wet!) and set in a warm place to rise for about an hour or until double.
(If you have a gas oven with a pilot, this is perfect. So is the top of the refrigerator.)
Punch the dough down, knead it briefly, then re-cover it in the bowl and set it aside to rise for another hour.
Punch the dough down again, knead it for about a minute, then divide it into three equal parts. Form each portion into a loaf, and place into a greased loaf pan (if you made a seam in the loaves when forming them, place the seam at the bottom.) Cover with a moist towel and let the loaves rise about 45 minutes, until the tops of the loaves are just above the top edge of the pans. After 30 minutes of this rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees (350 for glass pans).
For a chewier top crust, you can brush on a mixture of one beaten egg and a Tablespoon of water before placing the loaves in the oven.
(for a moister crust, bake plain, then rub a stick of butter over the hot loaves until the top crust is lightly coated as the loaves are cooling on a rack.)
Bake the loaves for 35-40 minutes. The crust should be golden brown, and the loaves will sound hollow when rapped with a knuckle. Remove from pans immediately and place on wire racks to cool. Cool completely before storing in any airtight container.
To make this a whole wheat bread, substitute up to three cups of the white flour with whole wheat. You can also use a cup of cracked wheat or steel cut oats for a cup of the flour for some extra texture. If you want, you can also use shortening instead of butter, barley malt instead of the Tablespoon of sugar (this makes nice puffy loaves!), leave out the eggs, increase the salt up to 1 teaspoon. .
.the possibilities are endless, and nothing I've done (besides use dead yeast) has ruined this recipe.