With this recipe, you can use either all-purpose or bread flour. My preference is bread flour as it contains a bit more protein than all-purpose flour.
If you don’t have a bread machine, you can still make this bread. However, the rise of the loaf and the texture of the bread is likely to be heavier than if you use a bread machine for the mixing and kneading. If mixing and kneading by hand, be sure to do so very thoroughly.
2-3 quart mixing bowl
2-cup measuring utensil
Measuring cups, from ¼-cup size on up
Whisk or fork
Bread pan (no larger than 9×5)
Butter, oil or no-stick spray to coat bread pan
1 cup water, ranging from 105 to 110 degrees (Fahrenheit)
1/3 cup milk
1 ½ teaspoons yeast
¼ cup sugar
3 ½ – 3 ¾ cups all-purpose or bread flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt (I recommend Himalayan pink salt)
3 tablespoons of melted butter or oil
If necessary (typically during the winter months), use hot tap water to heat the measuring cup you use for activating your yeast and for the bread machine canister. This helps keep your dough warm throughout the prep phase so the yeast performs well. It takes just a few minutes once hot water is added to the utensil. Pour the water out before using either the measuring cup or canister.
Place 1 cup of hot tap water in 2-cup measuring utensil. Add the milk and sweetener of your choice. Mix well.
If you’re using refrigerated milk and sweetener, it will significantly cool your water, which means your yeast won’t perform well. Use a digital thermometer to test the mixture’s temperature. If it’s too cold, it can be heated to the proper temperature. If it’s too warm, allow it to sit at room temperature until it reaches the 105-110 degree temperature range. If too cold, you can heat about 2 tablespoons (till it steams) on your stovetop and mix it into the rest of the liquid. This should bring it to the desired temperature, 105-110 degrees.
Once the recipe liquid’s temperature is in the appropriate range, dissolve the yeast in it by stirring thoroughly. Allow the yeast mixture to sit about 3 minutes and form a foamy “head” to indicate that the yeast is activated.
While you’re waiting for the yeast, mix your dry ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, measure flour and salt. Blend the ingredients well.
If using butter, either melt it just till it’s soft enough to easily blend into the bread dough, or cut it into small pieces that will easily blend into your dough.
Pour out the warm water in your bread machine canister (if you warmed it). Carefully pour the yeast mixture into the canister, using a spatula to clear the measuring utensil. Slowly add the flour mixture. Pour the oil or melted butter on top of the flour. Select your machine settings and start the mixing/kneading process.
Once the initial kneading/mixing is complete, allow the dough to rest in the bread machine pan until the second kneading cycle is completed.
Before the second cycle completes, prepare your bread pan. If necessary, warm the pan before coating it (spraying with non-stick product, insert parchment, etc.).
After the second kneading cycle is done, gently place the dough into the coated bread pan, cover it and place it in a warm area (I use my oven, which I heat to near 100 degrees). It will take 30-45 minutes for the dough to raise.
Once the dough is raised, place it in a pre-heated 350-degree oven. Bake it for 30-45 minutes until the crust is nicely browned. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Try to give it some time to cool before you cut any slices!
Once it’s thoroughly cooled, store the bread either in a plastic bag or bread-keeper product. In summer, home-made bread quickly spoils and should be refrigerated once it’s cooled.