How to bake what is probably the sweetest smelling bread on the planet.
EDIT Since this instructable has been featured, and I wrote it a while ago, I thought i should just add a couple of notes about bread-related experiences i've had.
1. Kneading - knead a lot. Try to hold off on adding extra flour if you think your bread is a little wet still, and see if it firms up with about 8-10 minutes of kneading. if it's a sloppy mess you may not have added enough in the beginning. You should have a ball of dough at the end that looks much smoother than the dough pictured here, before I learned the importance of good kneading.
2. Yeast - step 3 should be called "Proofing the yeast" , but I'll leave it. Only proof the yeast if you use "active" yeast like i did when I wrote this. If you are using INSTANT yeast, you may skip the proofing step and simply add it in with the other dry ingredients. This is how i work now and although i miss the science-experiment vibe of watching yeast proof, it is that little bit quicker.
Step 1: Gather the ingredients
Here's what you need:
7 cups white unbleached flour
1 1/2 cups very hot water
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup honey (I used honey and maple syrup, so this is up to your discretion)
2 packages active yeast
You'll also need:
A large bowl
A spoon or whisk
A tea towel
2 Standard sized bread pans
some measuring cups
Step 2: Intro
This is a bread recipie I found in an old church cookbook intended for wednesday meals. Besides being the only bread I currently had the ingredients for, I thought it wuold be the quickest since the time was listed as just 45 minutes. That is the BAKE TIME, this bread will take you about three and a half hours all told.
Step 3: Start the yeast
Add two packs of yeast and between a 1/2 cup and 1 cup of warm water. Dissolve the yeast, and let it sit for about ten minutes. When it's ready, the yeast will look like the photo, very foamy.
Step 4: Mix the wet ingredients.
While you're waiting for the yeast to activate, pour the hot water into a large bowl. Add your butter and honey, and mix it up. The original recipie asked for salt here too, but didn't say how much. I left it out, and nothing seemed amiss. Just stir it all together. Once the yeast is ready, add it to the mix, along with the water you used to activate it.
Step 5: Add Flour.
Ever play Parappa? This is the cake stage, where we M I X the flour into the bowl. Add it one cup at a time and mix in between. After your sixth cup, Dump the dough out on a dusted board and knead in the rest of the flour. Knead about 10 minutes.
To knead dough, push with both hand from the centre out to the edge, spreading the dough. Fold it in half, turn it 90 degrees, and repeat. It's simple, you'll pick it up in no time.
Step 6: Let it Rise
Wash your big bowl and grease it well. Flop the kneaded dough around in the bowl until it's well greased all over. Cover it with a wet tea towel and let it rise in a warm place. If your room is too cool, put the bread in the over with a pan of hot water underneath.
Let the dough rise for 1 1/2 hours. After this time, press your finger into the dough. If the mark stays, you're ready for the next step.
i don't have any photos of the dough rising for this step, but it will double in size. It's pretty amazing.
Step 7: Second rise
Dump out the dough on a dusted board. Punch it down. Grease the two bread pans. Cut the dough in half and place it into the pans. Cover them with a wet tea towel again and let it rise for another hour.
Step 8: Clean Up
You've got an hour to wait, so why not do the cleaning now? Wash up your bowls and spoons, wipe up the counter, and you can be productive while you're waiting for your bread to rise.
Step 9: Heat the oven
Heat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Bake the loaves for 45 minutes, or until they sound hollow when you tap them. Turn the pans on their sides and slide the loaves out onto a rack to cool.
Step 10: Rejoice!
Your bread is finished. Let it cool and share it with your family and friends.