I worked in a bakery for nearly five years. While my role was more focused on cakes and pies, I did get a lot of experience in making bread.
There's something really cathartic about the bread-making process--the mixing, the kneading, the shaping, and yes, the waiting. It's not a job for an impatient person, or rather, it's not a job an impatient person can tolerate for long. I've found that making a batch of bread once every two or three weeks is just right for me--I work out my angst without creating more with all of that infernal waiting.
This recipe makes two loaves, which is perfect for the two of us. I freeze one, and the other we slice up and use as toast for breakfast or sandwiches for lunch. I've also been known to just eat a slice in the evening while watching TV*. The bread is soft, sweet, and, assuming you have the patience to wait for proper proofing, perfectly textured.
*Totally hooked on The Wire now, BTW...as usual, I'm a few years behind. Better late than never, eh?
Bread for Sandwiches (and Toast)(and French Toast)(and Sopping)
- 2 cups warm water (110-120 degrees F)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1-1/2 tablespoons (2 packets) active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 6 cups bread flour, give or take, plus more for your counter
In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm water, and then stir in yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam.
Mix salt and oil into the yeast. Mix in flour one cup at a time. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth, about 8-10 minutes. Place in a well oiled bowl, and turn dough to coat. Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half. Shape into loaves, and place into two well-oiled 9x5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until dough has risen 1 inch above pans.
Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, or until internal temperature is 194-200 degrees F.
Mad props to my personal photographer for his assistance in this post. He did not get paid.