There’s almost no better smell than that of freshly baked homemade bread. This recipe breaks down, step-by-step, how to make the perfect loaf.
Prep time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Servings: Yields 2 loaves
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons shortening, softened
- 7 cups unbleached bread flour, sifted, plus additional for kneading
Place yeast in measuring cup with 1/2 cup lukewarm water. Let sit, without stirring, for 5 minutes.
Combine 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water, sugar and salt in large bowl. Stir yeast and water in measuring cup and add to sugar and salt mixture. Stir to combine. Add shortening and mix well.
Add the flour in two additions, mixing with spoon until dough is proper consistency to finish mixing with hands. When dough begins to leave the side of the bowl, turn it out onto lightly floured surface.
Knead dough by folding over toward you then pressing down away from you with heel of hands. Give dough quarter turn and repeat until it’s smooth, elastic and doesn’t stick to surface.
Place dough in greased bowl, turning once to bring greased side up. Cover with damp cloth and let rise in warm, draft-free location until double in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Press 2 fingers into dough, which should leave indents when dough has doubled. Place fist in dough, pull edges into center and turn completely over in bowl. Let rise again until almost double in size, about 30-45 minutes.
Prepare two baking sheets by lining with parchment paper.
Mold dough into round loaves and place on prepared baking sheets. Cover and let rise again until double in size, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425°F. If desired, cut a decorative design in top of loaves using a sharp knife. Bake until golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Bread should sound hollow when top is tapped with fingers.
ORANGE & FIELD TIP: While we used bread flour, you can use all-purpose flour, as well.