Farmhouse White Bread
- Cooking Time: 35 minutes
- Servings: 3 1.5 lb loaves
- Preparation Time: 2+ hours
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoons (2 pkgs yeast)
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoons canola oil
- 4 cups warm milk (or water)
- 6 cups bread flour
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons salt
- In a very large bowl, stir together the all-purpose flour, yeast, and sugar (I use a wooden spoon). Make a small well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the canola oil and then the milk. Mix well, then continue to stir vigorously, slowly adding 1 cup of the bread flour at a time, until you've added about 5 cups, or until you have a soft, slightly sticky dough; this should take several minutes.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 6 or 7 minutes, adding more flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to your hands or the work surface.
- Place the mixing bowl over the dough, and let it rest for 20 minutes. This rest period is called the autolyse.
- Remove the bowl, flatten out the dough with your hands, and sprinkle about half of the salt over it. Begin kneading the salt into the dough. After a few turns, sprinkle on the rest of the salt and continue to knead for 5 to 7 minutes, until the salt is completely incorporated and the dough is soft and smooth.
- Sprinkle flour in the dough bowl, place the dough in it, liberally dust it with flour, and cover it with a damp tea towel (not terry cloth, as it will shed lint on your dough). Or put it in a straight sided plastic container with a snap-on lid and mark the spot on the container that the dough will reach when it has doubled in volume.
- When the dough is ready to be shaped, you should be able to push a floured finger deep into it and leave an indentation that doesn't spring back. Unless your dough is rising in a straight-sided container, it can be difficult to judge whether it has "doubled in size" which is the guideline most recipes use. I find the finger poking method to be more reliable, though lately I've been letting all my doughs rise in plastic containers.
- Shaping and final rise (proof)
- Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, flattening gently with your hands to break up any large air bubbles. Divide the dough into three equal pieces.
- Shape the dough into loaves and dust the tops with flour. Place loaves seam side down in greased loaf pans. I like my sandwich breads to be tall, so I use smaller loaf pans.
- Cover the loaves with a damp tea towel and let them rise for 45 to 60 minutes. When you lightly poke the dough with a floured finger it should spring back just a little.
- Bake at 375° for 35 minutes or until the loaves are golden brown and the bottoms sound hollow if tapped. Remove immediately from pans and let cool on a wire rack. Try to wait at least 40 minutes before cutting into a loaf. Store at room temperature or freeze in zipper freezer bags. Make sure loaves are completely cooled before sealing in bags.