Prep 1 hr 45 mins
Cook 40 mins
The texture and flavor of this bread is outstanding. It's based on the recipe in the Panera Bread cookbook. It makes two loaves. I typically freeze one half of the dough to bake later in the week. This recipe represents the grains of the U.S. Midwestern states.
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast (or 2/3 tsp rapid rise yeast)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3⁄4 cup warm water
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 1 1/3 tsp rapid rise yeast)
- 1⁄4 cup vegetable shortening, plus
- 1 teaspoon vegetable shortening
- 4 3⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon salt
- Make the starter:.
- Using the starter ingredients listed above, combine water and yeast in medium bowl. Stir to dissolve yeast. Add flour and stir until thoroughly mixed. Cover with a cloth and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before using in the dough.
- Make the dough:.
- Using the dough ingredients listed above, combine the water, honey, and yeast in the bowl of a heavy duty stand mixer. Stir to mix thoroughly. Add shortening, flour, salt, and starter. Mix ingredients on low speed, with the mixer, until the dough is smooth and elastic (this usually takes me about 8 - 10 minutes). To test it for elasticity, I pinch off a piece of dough, and stretch it between both thumbs and my fingers into a square. If the center stretches and becomes thin (like a windowpane) it's perfect. If the dough breaks easily instead of stretching, it's not ready yet. When ready, remove dough from mixing bowl.
- Divide the dough into two halves. Form each into a smooth ball. (You can wrap and freeze one of the loaves at this point.) Place the dough on the counter, or in a proofing basket, and cover with a warm, damp cloth. Rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400ºF. Form the dough into a loaf shape (free form or use a loaf pan), and cover with a warm, damp cloth. Let rest another 30 minutes.
- Baking the bread:.
- Score the loaf (loaves) with a sharp knife. Spritz with some water and place in the pre-heated oven (if making a free form loaf, place on a preheated baking stone). Bake for 30 - 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown, and the temperature in the middle of the loaf is about 195ºF. I use a digital probe thermometer to test the temperature.
- Remove the bread from the oven and from the pan (if using one). Let cool about 30 minutes.
I thought I better post a review on this recipe, this has become our everyday bread at my home, it is the best white bread recipe out there in my opinion. It has amazing texture and holds up well even for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!
I love this bread recipe! I used it for my first attempt at making bread in years, and even though I realized I used the wrong yeast measurement (whoops!), it still turned out delicious! (although due to my error, a bit dense- not that I minded, it was very filling). I also did free-form loaves and baked them on a pizza stone, so even the crust was tasty. I will be using this recipe to make our bread from now on! Saves money and tastes so much better than store bought bread.
I wrapped the 2nd loaf to freeze, but had to take it out and let it rise as the 1st loaf was immediately devoured by everyone, leaving none for school sandwiches. We might switch away from store bought bread all together!!!!