Linda’s White Bread Plus

This recipe uses sugar and an egg, which means there's built-in structural redundancy in case something goes wonky with your yeast.  It's the perfect bread to make if you're new to the bread-baking world, or if it's just been a while! 

 

Combine in a large bowl:

3 cups sifted all-purpose flour

½ cup sugar

1 Tablespoon salt

1 package instant dry yeast

Combine in another bowl:

2.5 cups 120-130 degree water

½ cup vegetable shortening (does not need to melt in the water)

Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry. 

Add to make a thick batter: 

1 beaten egg

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour

Stir in to make a soft dough:

3 to 4 cups sifted all-purpose flour

Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic – about ten minutes.  Add more flour as needed until the dough is no longer sticky to the touch (“tacky” to the touch is okay).  Spritz the dough bowl with oil, put the ball of dough back in, and spritz the top with oil.  Cover with a cloth, and put in a warm place with no drafts.  (I tend to use my oven – turned off, of course!)  Let the dough rise until roughly double in size – about an hour. 

Tip the dough back out onto the lightly floured board, and knead until all the large air bubbles are gone.  Cut the dough in half, and place each half in an oiled bread pan.  Place the pans in your warm place with no drafts, spritz the tops with oil, and cover with the cloth again.  Let rise until double in size – again, about an hour. 

Remove the cloth, and place the pans into a cold oven.  Turn the heat to 400.  After 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 375 and bake 25 minutes longer.  The bread should be golden-brown, but there’s also two methods you can use to make sure all the dough in the middle is properly baked:

  1. Poke a wooden chopstick in the middle of the largest loaf – if it comes out sticky, the bread’s not done.  Keep the loaves baking 5-8 minutes longer, then test again – but put the chopstick in a new hole! 
  2. Rap your knuckles again the top of a loaf – loaves of bread, like melons, should sound hollow when they’re done. 

Tip the loaves out on a cloth or wooden surface and let cool before covering or putting away.  And while bread sticklers will say that you should let them cool for two hours before digging in, I say:  the most delicious slice is the heel, warm from the oven, covered in melting butter and honey. 

Important note re: storing homemade bread:  the fridge will make it mold faster than usual, so put in a paper bag on your counter.  It'll only stay good for a couple days--so if you're not sure you can finish both loaves by then, slice it up and freeze it.  To make sandwiches from the frozen bread, just briefly toast the slices--I promise, it'll be delish!  If some of the bread gets stale, you can always make Grand Central's bread pudding muffins o_O