Want to bake bread at home? No need to be intimidated! These easy-to-follow, kitchen-tested steps make it easy for anyone—yes, even you—to master baking bread from scratch.
What you’ll need:
1. In large bowl, stir 3 ½ cups of flour, sugar, salt, shortening and yeast, as called for in the recipe, stirring until well mixed. Then add the warm water (120° to 130°F) and beat with electric mixer on low speed for one minute, scraping bowl frequently. Dough will be very soft and should fall in “sheets” from your rubber spatula.
2. Stir in enough remaining flour, one cup at a time (this makes the dough easier to handle). Then place the dough on a lightly floured surface. To knead, fold dough towards you, then with the heels of your hands, push dough away from you with a short rocking motion. Rotate dough a quarter turn and repeat. Continue this process for about 10 minutes or until the dough feels smooth and springy.
3. Next, grease a large bowl with shortening. Place dough in the bowl, turning slowly to cover with grease on all sides. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for 40 to 60 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size. You’ll know it’s done when you press your fingertips about ½-inch into the dough and the indentations remain.
4. Gently punch your fist into the top of the dough to deflate. This releases large air bubbles to produce a finer texture.
5. Grease bottoms and sides of two 8x4-inch or 9x5-inch loaf pans with shortening or cooking spray and set aside. Divide the dough in half and flatten each half with a rolling pin into an 18x9-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface.
6. Roll dough up tightly, beginning at the 9-inch side, pressing with thumbs to seal after each turn. Pinch the edge of dough into roll and then pinch each end of roll to seal.
7. Fold ends under each loaf. Place loaves seam down in greased loaf pans and brush lightly with one tablespoon of melted butter. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 35 to 50 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
8. Move oven rack to low position so that the tops of the pans will be in the center of the oven. Heat oven to 425°F and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until loaves are a deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pans to cooling rack. Brush loaves with remaining tablespoon of melted butter; cool completely before devouring.
Once you’ve mastered this basic bread recipe, try any one of these top-rated recipes!