Is there anything better than the smell of fresh baked bread wafting out of a warm kitchen? With this recipe, the only thing better is the taste! This simple loaf bread is great for toast, sandwiches, and perfect with a little compound butter.
Basic White Bread
Yield: 3 loaves
2-3 cups boiling water for steam bath
3 cups warm water, for dough
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons instant/rapid rise yeast*
6 cups unbleached bread flour, plus more if needed
1/4 cup cornmeal
*An instant yeast, sometimes called “rapid rise” removes the need for proofing the dough; there is only one rise. Instant yeast is also added with the flour, rather than into the water with the sugar. This yeast is available at your local grocer, or online.
Stand mixer with dough hook.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 3 medium (8.5 x 4.5 x 2.75 inches) loaf pans. Have 2-3 cups of water boiling for steam bath.
In the bowl of a stand mixer pour the warm water, vegetable oil, sugar, and salt. Start mixer. Slowly add 3 cups of flour, one at a time. Once flour is combined, add yeast. Add remaining flour 1/4 cup at a time, allowing flour to combine completely before adding more.
Once the flour is combined, the dough should start to pull away from sides of the bowl, and its texture will appear waxy.
Sprinkle counter or cutting board and hands with cornmeal. Remove dough from the bowl. At this point, the dough should be moved as little as possible. The less it is handled, the better it will rise. Divide dough into three equal pieces. Gently fold each piece in half, and place in loaf pan, seam side down.
Pour an inch of hot water into a shallow sheet pan. Place loaves in water, without dough getting wet. Using glasses, or tall bottles, tent a damp cloth over bread and tray, being careful not to let the cloth touch the bread. This tent will help your dough rise and keep out cold, yeast-killing drafts. Let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, 10-15 minutes.
When the dough has risen, bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is crisp and golden brown.
Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.
Cooking time 1 hour 30 minutes