1 cup warm water (not hot, but not room temperature either)
1/3 cup white sugar
3/4 tablespoons active dry yeast
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/8 cup vegetable oil
3 cups bread flour (I used unbleached bread flour, but you can also use all-purpose flour)
1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm water, and then stir in yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles a bubbly foam. Proofing basically means that the yeast becomes active, this takes about 5 - 10 minutes.
2. Mix salt and oil into the yeast. Mix in flour one cup at a time. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface (or in your very large bowl) until smooth. Place in a well oiled bowl, and turn dough to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Rising in a warm oven (turned off) works best.
3. Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes. Shape into a loaf, and place into a well oiled 9×5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until dough has risen 1 inch above pan.
4. Bake at 325 degrees F for 30 minutes.
*If you have a large family I would recommend doubling this recipe. Be sure to follow the measurements and directions carefully for best results. The bread should keep for about a week, or you can freeze the bread if you make extra.
I must admit, I was very, very nervous while making this recipe. I am not an experienced baker, and I have never attempted to make any sort of dough or bread by hand (not even pizza dough!) In the end, the bread came out tasting...fantastic! It is quite a dense bread, which is great because it just makes it that more filling! Perhaps using 2 1/2 cups of flour instead of 3 cups would make it less dense (for those that would like it that way). But, I don't really know, since I am not an experienced bread-maker!
me with my bread. I was really, really tired by this point!
My verdict: This bread is well-worth the time and effort (really it's only about 15 minutes of "active" baking, but you need about 2.5 hours to do it). Next time I will make two loaves so that my efforts stretch farther (this loaf will probably last us 3-days). The beauty of making your own bread is that it's
a) cheaper than buying bread, especially if you buy fresh bread or organic
b) completely fresh, with no preservatives
c) can even be organic if you buy organic sugar and flour
d) fun! I felt pretty awesome that I did this myself