Basic White Bread
In this recipe, you can replace the 1¾ cups water with potato water. Save the water in which you boil potatoes to use in making white bread. Potato water improves the action of yeast. It also adds a subtle flavor and keeps home-baked bread moist longer.
INGREDIENTS | MAKES 3 small or 2 large loaves
- 5½–6 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 package active dry yeast
- ¼ cup warm water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1¾ cups warm water
- 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
Place about one third of the flour in a large bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the yeast with ¼ cup warm water, stirring well.
Add the sugar, salt, and 1¾ cups water to the yeast. Add the mixture to the flour in the bowl and stir well.
Cut in the shortening, using a pastry cutter or your hands. Stir in as much of the remaining flour as possible.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead 8 to 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding flour as necessary.
Transfer the dough to a large well-greased bowl, turning to coat both sides. Cover with a damp cloth and place in a warm, draft-free area. Allow to rise until double in volume, about 1–1½ hours.
Punch the dough down and let rise a second time until almost doubled in bulk. Grease three 8″ × 4″ or two 9″ × 5″ bread pans.
Punch dough down a second time and divide into two or three loaves. Shape loaves and place into prepared bread pans. Cover and let rise until almost doubled.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake 20 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from pans and allow to cool on a rack.