When I first starting making bread, I thought putting shortening on my hands would help in kneading. I was wrong! I wound up kneading the bread in the air. So I read everything about bread making I could, and after using a lot of recipes, I made bread that won the blue ribbon in the State Fair. Although I have written the recipe to use dry yeast, I use compressed yeast, if I can find it. The temperature for compressed yeast is 85 degrees. I also use this basic white bread to make cinnamon-raisin, herb, and sun-dried tomato basil. This recipe was not intended for use in a bread machine, as it makes 2 loaves. I do sift the flour before measuring, which makes it light. Since the excitement of the Blue Ribbon Recipes on the Zaar, a lot of people have asked me questions. I am trying to answer them by tweaking my recipe, and adding comments here at the top. Someone asked if they had to use "shortening". I don't think there are too many musts... Today, I made one of the two loaves with about 1/2 cup of Calamata Olives (pitted and cut into small pieces), and about 3 ounces of a shredded three cheese blend (Parmesan, Asiago, & Romano), it was awesome. My 8 year old granddaughter could not get enough! Next time, I will try to use olive oil with this combination.
- Sprinkle dry yeast in warm (110 degrees) water.
- Scald milk (150 degrees) in sauce pan, then remove from heat.
- Add sugar, salt, and shortening to the milk.
- Cool to lukewarm.
- Add yeast/water mixture and 2 cups of sifted flour and beat with hand mixer on lowest speed.
- Stir in 2 to 3 more cups of flour. (I use my wooden spoon for this).
- When dough becomes too stiff to stir, turn out onto well floured surface.
- Knead until smooth and satiny, and "blisters" start to appear. (10 minutes). During this step, I keep the kneading surface well floured to prevent the dough from becoming sticky. Depending upon the temperature and humidity, more or less flour becomes incorporated into the dough. I have found that this is fine. The dough seems to know how much flour it needs. I am sure sometimes I add another full cup! Since this is all sifted flour, it is probably not as much as it seems. When the dough has enough flour, it stops "taking it in", and becomes very smooth and elastic.
- Shape into a ball.
- Put into large greased bowl, turning over to coat entire surface.
- Cover with warm damp towel, then place another towel over that.
- Put in oven (not lit) with light on, or other warm, not drafty place.
- Let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Punch down. (this step is a light kneed in the bowl).
- Let rise again until doubled. (about 45 minutes).
- Divide dough into 2 pieces and shape each into a ball placing on floured surface.
- Cover and let bread rest (proof) for 10 minutes.
- Grease 2 loaf pans (I use 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 glass pans).
- Flatten balls, one at a time, into long rectangles about 8x16 inches.
- Roll up lengthwise shaping into loaves to fit pan.
- Cover and let rise again until double. (about an hour).
- Bake in hot (400°F) oven for 35 - 40 minutes, covering with foil last 20 minutes, if tops get too brown.
- When bread is done, remove from pans at once, placing on a wire rack to cool, keeping away from drafts.
- For soft crust, brush tops with butter and cover with a damp cloth.
I finally had a chance to make the bread! I have given the recipe 5 stars because for my first time making bread I am exceedingly pleased with the results! The directions were clear and easy to understand. I made one loaf of white bread and one cinnamon raisin bread. Tastes great and the texture was outstanding. Crusty on the outside and soft and moist on the inside. I like my bread a bit sweeter but that is a personal preference. This recipe was great. Thanks Barbara. I will be trying this recipe again.
I can see why this bread is a blue ribbon winner. I made it this afternoon for our evening meal, and it makes two outstanding loaves. The texture is wonderful and it is so easy to slice. I say this recipe is a must for everyone to try.
I've been searching for a very good white bread recipe. I'll search no more. This is the best bread I've ever eaten, let alone made. I froze one loaf and just got it out last week, it was as good as the day I made it.