Can you believe it? I'm actually back with a new post! And by that I mean an old post with new pictures. :) This is definitely worth posting again, though, because it is one of my favorite things in the world to make! I bake a lot of bread. Before I started nursing school a few years ago, I had settled into a habit of making almost all of our bread, and I loved it. I made it my goal a few years ago to become perfect at baking bread, and I feel like I've accomplished that goal. My method is consistent, my loaves are beautifully shaped, and I am pretty expert at knowing exactly how much to flour the dough. The only thing missing was a perfect everyday bread recipe. I've used several that I've liked, but none has really had all the characteristics I liked... either they were only the good the first day, or they didn't freeze well, or they were too complicated and had too many ingredients.
A while ago, I came across this recipe on Pinterest, and decided to try it, mostly because the picture looked like the bread I've been trying to make all this time. The result: perfect bread! I love it! It's easy to make, I always have the ingredients on hand, it's good for a few days after baking, and it freezes well. The only real change I've made to the original recipe is to split it into three loaves, because when I made it into two loaves, they were too big to fit into my bread bags. I think three loaves results in a more manageable size for sandwiches, too. The success of this recipe is making me excited about baking all our bread again! I'm planning to try it with half whole wheat and see if it works, and if so it will be our new go-to for everyday bread and sandwiches.
Butter-Topped White Bread
The Curvy Carrot
4 and 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast (or the equivalent of two packets)
3/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into pieces
2 and 2/3 cup additional warm water
9-10 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, for brushing the tops of the loaves
Additional butter/cooking spray, for greasing your rising bowl and loaf pans
In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water with a teaspoon of the sugar. When the yeast is bubbled and foamy, mix in the rest of the sugar, the salt, the butter, and the warm water. Slowly mix in 5 cups of flour, mixing on low speed until smooth. Gradually add remaining flour, adding just enough to make a smooth and slightly sticky dough. Knead on low speed for 10 minutes. Lightly grease a large bowl with cooking spray. Place dough in the greased bowl and turn to coat with spray. Cover and let rise in a warm place for one hour.
Preheat oven to 425. When the dough has risen, punch it down and divide into three equal sized pieces. Roll each piece into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Roll each rectangle up into a cylinder, and place each seam-side down in a lightly-greased bread pan (I used 9 inch bread pans). Cover and let rise in a warm place for one hour.
When the loaves have risen, place them in the preheated oven and bake 15 minutes. Cover the tops of the loaves with foil to prevent excessive browning, and bake another fifteen minutes. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter. Let cool before slicing.
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