Who doesn't love a slice of warm home-baked bread? It fills any house with a warm feeling! I found this recipe in All About Home Baking, which was published by General Foods Kitchens back in 1960. It is easy, and so far has proven to be fool-proof!
Special thanks to Melissa and Sean, for if they hadn't put this book in their Discard pile, I might have never found this recipe!
According to page 1 of the book: Baking is an art - you are the artist!
Step 1: Ingredients
1.25 cups of warm (110-115 degrees) water
1 packet of yeast
2 tablespoons soft shortening+
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
3 cups sifted flour ++
+ you can use Crisco, butter or margarine
++ sift flour and then measure
Step 2: Yeast Into Water
Pour your 1.25 cups of warm water into a bowl (Mixer bowl, if planning on using your stand mixer) and sprinkle yeast on top.
Step 3: Stir to Disolve Yeast
Stir the yeast until it is dissolved, water will look rather "dirty" when it is done. Mixing takes about 30 seconds.
Step 4: Adding Some Ingredients and Mix
To the yeast mixture add your 2 tablespoons of shortening, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1.5 cups of the flour.
300 strokes if doing it by hand, 2 minutes at medium speed if using an electric mixer like I do. Batter will look rather thin (like cake batter), but don't panic, that is how it should look.
Step 5: Scrape, Add Flour and Mix Again.
Stop your mixing and scrape down sides of bowl. Add remaining 1.5 cups of flour and mix (either by hand or with mixer set on lowest setting) until smooth(ish) and elastic.
Step 6: Scrape Down Again and Allow to Rise
Once again, scrape down sides of bowl. Cover bowl with a clean, dry cloth and place in a warm area, away from drafts and allow it to rise undisturbed until double in size, about an hour. I place mine on top of the fridge.
Step 7: Prepare Baking Pan
Grease a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.
Step 8: "Punch" Down and Allow to Rise Again
"Punch" down your dough, by scraping sides into the center of bowl for 25 strokes. Scrape your dough into the prepared loaf pan.
Step 9: Second Raising!
Return the dough (now in the loaf pan) to the nice warm place it sat when it rose the first time. Allow dough to rise to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the rim of the pan, about 45 minutes to an hour.
Step 10: Pre-Heat
Once dough is about 1/4-1/2 inch from rim of pan, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Step 11: Pop Into Preheated Oven
Place your loaf into your preheated oven and bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.
Step 12: Pop Loaf Out of Pan and Allow to Cool
Run a knife around the edges of the loaf to loosen it, and allow to cool on a wire rack.
Step 13: Slice, If You Like!
Because it is easier for me, I go ahead and slice the entire loaf and store it in a zip-loc bag. Remember, the only preservative in your home-made loaf is the salt. It will not keep fresh as long as commercially prepared loaves will. Although it will be eaten a whole lot faster!