[Breadbaking is] one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world's sweetest smells... there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel, that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread. ~M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating
Who doesn't love the smell of baking bread, it really is one of the most intoxicating, yet calming scents out there. It is a scent that will always take you to pleasant memories. I was so excited when I finally learned how to make bread, I made a lot of hockey pucks before I got it right. I have tried literally hundreds of bread recipes, and my favorite is Julia Child's recipe. Of course anything by the great Julia Child is going to be amazing. I love the format of her recipes, Julia was a great teacher, her recipes show that. The recipes are clear and concise and step by step, she tries to make every recipe fool proof. Try out this recipe, this is what always make to welcome people to the neighborhood, or really just anytime, everyone loves fresh bread. So sit down, take a slice with butter and jam and enjoy!
Julia Child's White Bread Recipe
(makes 2 loaves)
2 1/2 cups water (105-115 F)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
7 cups bread flour or 7 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1/4-1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
Pour 1/2 cup of the water into a bowl and mix with yeast and sugar til foamy.
Let sit for 5 minutes until creamy.
Put the yeast mixture, rest of the water and 3 1/2 cups of the flour into the mixer with the dough hook.
Mix slowly until blended then add the rest of the flour.
Increase speed and scrape down the sides til the dough comes together.
(If it doesn't add a tbsp of flour at a time til it does.) Add salt and mix at medium speed for 10 minutes (or do half in mixer and half kneading) til dough is smooth and elastic.
Back in mixer add butter 1 tbsp at a time (dough may come apart, but mixing will pull it back together).
Turn dough out on lightly floured surface and shape it into a ball then place in a large buttered or oiled bowl.
Turn dough so it is completely coated in the fat, then cover in plastic for 45 minutes to an hour, til it has doubled in size at room temperature.
Butter 2 loaf pans.
Deflate the dough, cut in half and turn out onto a lightly floured surface.
Roll out into a 9 x 12-inch rectangle.
With the short end facing you, fold the dough into thirds like a sheet of paper to go into an envelope, creating a roll.
Pinch the seam closed, and pinch the ends enough so it will fit in the loaf pan.
Drop in the loaf pan seem side down, and repeat.
Cover the loaves with buttered plastic wrap and allow to rise again in a warm place (80°F) for 45 minutes, until they double in size.
Preheat the oven to 375°F and put the rack in the center of the oven.
Bake for 35-45 minutes til they are honey brown.
Immediately turn out of pans onto a rack to cool.
Once almost completely cool, they can be cut.