Cookstr.com

Country White Bread

This image courtesy of Mark Ferri

Not at all like that puffed-up Wonder Bread stuff, these loaves produce slices that are perfectly tender yet substantial enough to stand up to the heftiest sandwich, as well as French toast, stuffing, and sweet or savory bread pudding. Since it’s always such a comfort to have a loaf or two tucked in the freezer, this recipe makes three loaves. If you are new to making bread, especially by hand, I suggest that you make the Challah Bread on page 226 once or twice (either plain or with raisins) before making this larger dough. After that, this one will be a piece of cake.

NotesA word about oven space: If all three loaves won’t fit in your oven, bake two risen loaves at once while the third rises in the refrigerator, covered. When the first two loaves enter the oven, remove the third from the refrigerator, letting it rise until the desired volume is achieved. Bake as directed.

Timing is Everything:

• The dough can be made two days ahead of baking. After the first punch-down, cover the bowl securely with the original greased plastic wrap and then with aluminum foil. Before shaping, let the dough sit out of refrigeration until it becomes room temperature (which can take 4 hours). Shape, rise, and bake as directed.

• To freeze these loaves, don’t apply the last application of melted butter after baking, which tends to create a shriveled look in frozen breads. When fully cool, wrap the loaf in a double layer of aluminum foil, then slip the loaf inside a large heavy-duty freezer bag and freeze it for up to one month.

Three9 × 5-inch loaves

Cooking Methodbaking

CostInexpensive

Total Timehalf-day

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

Dietary Considerationhalal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian

Moodblue

Taste and Texturebuttery, sweet

Type of Dishyeast bread

Ingredients

  • About 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2½ cups milk
  • ¼ cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 2½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ cup sugar or mild-flavored honey, plus a pinch of sugar
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • Up to 5 cups unbleached all purpose flour, including flour for dusting

Instructions

  1. Use some of the melted butter to grease the interior of an 8-quart mixing bowl. Set that bowl aside. Warm the milk with the shortening and add 6 tablespoons of the melted butter. Pour the hot milk mixture into another large mixing bowl and add the salt and ½ cup sugar or honey. Let the mixture cool to lukewarm. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water with the pinch of sugar and allow it to become bubbly, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, stir the whole eggs and yolks into the milk mixture, then add the dissolved yeast. Stir in the bread flour, 1½ cups at a time, then add enough all-purpose flour, cup by cup, to create a somewhat stiff, shaggy mass that’s no longer easily stirred.

  2. Use a sturdy rubber spatula to scrape the mass out onto a floured surface and knead it until you’ve created a dough that’s smooth and elastic, adding only as much additional flour as is needed to keep the dough from sticking. Place the dough in the greased bowl and brush the top with more melted butter. Cover the bowl with greased plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm draft-free spot for 2 hours. Uncover the dough and punch it down with several swift swats with the back of your hand. Turn the dough over in the bowl and knead it gently to redistribute the yeast. Recover the bowl and let the dough rise again until very light and billowy, 1¼ hours.

  3. To shape, rise, and bake the loaves, first brush three 9 × 5-inch loaf pans with melted butter and set them aside. Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it gently and briefly. Use your pastry scraper to divide the dough into three equal portions, and cover them while working with one at a time. Roll one piece into an 8 × 10-inch rectangle, with one short end close to you. Starting at the short end that’s farthest from you, roll the dough down snugly toward you. After each revolution, use the fingertips on your working hand to press down and connect the interior wall of the roll to the bottom of the dough. When you reach the bottom, pinch the last inch of dough onto the roll so it adheres. Working with one end at a time, press each coiled spiral of dough in toward the center of the log. Pinch the top and bottom outer rims of dough together, elongating this part slightly, and attach it to the bottom seam, rounding off and sealing each end.

  4. Lay the loaf seam side down in a prepared loaf pan and use your hands to gently plump and correct the shape. Cover the loaf with a clean kitchen towel and repeat this same procedure with the remaining dough. Let the loaves rise for 45 minutes in a draft-free spot.

  5. Twenty minutes before the end of the rise, preheat the oven to 400°F. if using metal pans and 375°F. if using glass. Just before placing the loaves in the hot oven, brush the tops with melted butter. Bake the loaves in the middle of the oven, with 1½ inches between them, for 30 to 35 minutes, covering loosely with aluminum foil (shiny side up) for the last 10 minutes if becoming overly brown. Remove the loaves from the oven and turn them out of their pans onto wire racks. Give the bottom of each loaf a good tap on its bottom, which should sound hollow. If not, put them back into the oven (on a shallow baking sheet) for a few more minutes. When done, remove the loaves from the oven and, for the softest crusts, brush the tops with more melted butter. Let the loaves cool completely on wire racks before slicing.

  6. Twenty minutes before the end of the rise, preheat the oven to 400°F. if using metal pans and 375°F. if using glass. Just before placing the loaves in the hot oven, brush the tops with melted butter. Bake the loaves in the middle of the oven, with 1½ inches between them, for 30 to 35 minutes, covering loosely with aluminum foil (shiny side up) for the last 10 minutes if becoming overly brown. Remove the loaves from the oven and turn them out of their pans onto wire racks. Give the bottom of each loaf a good tap on its bottom, which should sound hollow. If not, put them back into the oven (on a shallow baking sheet) for a few more minutes. When done, remove the loaves from the oven and, for the softest crusts, brush the tops with more melted butter. Let the loaves cool completely on wire racks before slicing.

YOUR RECENTLY VIEWED RECIPES


Free recipes, giveaways, exclusive partner offers, and more straight to your inbox!

Reviews

I have not made this yet so I cannot rate it.

Include a Photo Include a Photo

Click the button above or drag and drop images onto the button. You can upload two images.

Cancel Reply to Comment

Thanks for your comment. Don't forget to share!

Close

Report Inappropriate Comment

Are you sure you would like to report this comment? It will be flagged for our moderators to take action.

Thank you for taking the time to improve the content on our site.

Sign In to Your Account

Close Window
Sign In with one of your Social Accounts
Facebook Twitter
OR
Sign In using Email and Password