This recipe makes one two-pound loaf of bread. The key to a high-rising loaf is keeping the dough – and thus the yeast – within a temperature range so the yeast remains active. It’s also essential to thoroughly knead the bread.
To help keep the dough warm, use hot water to warm your mixer bowl and dough hook before starting to mix ingredients. After the first mix/knead cycle (15 minutes), cover the top of the mixing bowl with a light cloth to help keep the dough from drying out. During the first rise, set the bowl in a warm place (a warmed oven is ideal) while it rises. Follow mix/knead instructions and baking instructions, which are the same as when using a mixer as a bread machine.
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 mixer bowl 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. At a low speed, using the dough hook, mix/knead the bread for 15 minutes.
Once the initial kneading/mixing is complete, cover the mixer bowl with a light towel and set the mixing bowl in a warm location for 20 minutes while the dough rests/rises.
For the final knead cycle, at low speed, knead the dough for 15 minutes. 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.