One loaf at a time basic homemade bread that is easy to make in your stand mixer or by hand. Fill your home with the great smells of baking bread with this homemade classic white bread you will enjoy for years.
I love good bread. Well, this is great bread. I have been looking for an "everyday" bread recipe for several years. Yes, I said years. I have tried many; I have even taken pictures for a post several times. I just couldn't do it until now.
So what was I looking for?
- Easy and great taste are givens.
- Stand-mixer option. I don't want to do hand kneading, mostly because I make a mess. It is a little work but more the mess. But flexible enough for hand kneading. I do no-knead bread, but the long time disturbs me—I think of nothing else all day long.
- I like the texture that milk adds to the bread. I don't like to "scald" milk. I don't even like to heat milk to a given temperature. It is just picky. So powdered milk is a plus.
- I want to make a large enough loaf to use. Many recipes make short loaves that don't do it for me for toast or a sandwich. I want a loaf I can use "every day."
- A one loaf recipe. This is cooking for two, after all.
So after many recipes and a number of trials, I have a winner. From King Authur Flour, we have an adaptation of their Classic White Sandwich Bread. It just has it all. I adjusted the salt a little and fleshed out the instructions a bit and adding options.
Not a fancy loaf. Just an excellent loaf.
I'm an all-purpose (AP) flour user, and I think most of us are, especially in smaller households. It works for most uses, and flour does not store forever.
You can use bread flour in this recipe. It is a direct one to one substitute. Bread flour has more protein and will usually produce a bit more rise and finer texture.
You can substitute some whole wheat flour for part of flour, but this is not a "whole wheat recipe." I would go up to 25% on this recipe, but more than that requires other adjustments. Normally, even the 25% needs fluid adjustment, but how this recipe determines fluid is flexible enough to handle that, or you can add a bit more if needed.
Lastly about flour, the most accurate way to use flour is by weight. But us Americans insist on cups. I'm a cup guy. But never "pack it in", fluff it up some and level the cup with a knife.
Generally, home cooks use dry yeast since fresh is harder to find and has a very short shelf life (like two weeks).
Consider instant and rapid yeast the same and is what I generally use. It dissolves rapidly and had a lot of live organisms.
Active dry yeast (the really old fashioned stuff) is the same organism but needs to be proofed (pre-dissolved) and will have less live organisms, so it will be slower to work.
I will frequently proof even instant/rapid yeast before use to be sure it is still good.
This needs some sweetness. I like to use honey and always have it, but many do not. The usual substitute for honey with sugar is generally between 1 part honey to 1.5-2 parts sugar.
I prefer dried milk in bread recipes, but it is not a must. Just skip the dried milk and use liquid milk instead of water.
My main reason has to do with temperature. The liquid should be 105 to 110 degrees when being added to yeast. Over 120 can start killing the yeast. I have been known to take 10 minutes to get my milk at the right temperature. It is much easier just to turn on the hot water.
Freshly baked bread should be stored airtight (after cooling) at room temperature. It will generally last about 3 days. Remember, there are no preservatives.
You can freeze baked bread, although I prefer not to. One month is probably the maximum time to had acceptable results.
You can also freeze the bread dough before baking. At the point of putting it in the loaf pan, seal well and freeze for up to 2-3 months. You can then thaw overnight in the refrigerator then let it rise before baking.
To a stand mixer, add 4 cups flour, 1 package quick or instant yeast, 2 teaspoon salt, and ½ cup dried milk. Add 1 tablespoon honey or sugar, and 2 tablespoons soft butter. Mix well in the bowl.
Start the mixer on a speed of two with the dough hook. Measure 1 ½ cup of water at a temperature of 105-110. Add 1 cup and allow it mix. Slowly add a tablespoon of water at a time. If the dough is "shaggy," you need more water.
Once it smooths, you are about right. It needs to be sticking some to the bottom of the bowl. Allow kneading 6-7 more minutes. You can also just mix well in a bowl and hand knead for 8-10 minutes. You're looking for smooth, bouncy and elastic.
Roll into a lightly oiled bowl and form into a ball. Cover and place in a warm place. Allow to rise until puffy and almost doubled—about 60-90 minutes. Please note the variation in rising time is based mostly on temperature.
Prep a 9 by 5 loaf pan with a light coat of oil. Preheat oven to 350°. Deflate the raised the dough.
Form the dough into the prepared pan. Cover and allow to rise until about 1 inch above the top of the pan. About 1 to 1 ½ hours.
Bake for 20 minutes, then tent lightly with foil and continue to bake for 15-20 minutes more until golden brown. If you thump the crust, it should sound hollow. If you are not sure, then an internal temperature of 195° to 200° is done.
Cool on a rack.
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Editor's Note: Originally published November 14, 2016. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.