2 packages active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water (105 to 115°)
2 cups lukewarm milk (scalded then cooled)
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons shortening
1 tablespoon salt
7 to 8 cups All Purpose Flour
Dissolve yeast in warm water in large mixing bowl. Stir in milk, sugar, shortening, salt and 4 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Mix in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.
Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up. Cover bowl with a clean, dry teatowel; let rise in warm place until double, about 1 hour. (Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.)
Punch down dough; divide into halves. Roll each half into rectangle, 18x9 inches. Fold 9-inch sides crosswise into thirds, overlapping the ends. Roll up tightly, beginning at narrow end. Pinch edges of dough into roll to seal well; press in ends of roll. Press each end with side of hand to seal; fold ends under.
Place loaves seam sides down in 2 greased loaf pans, 9x5x3 or 8 1/2x4 1/2x2 1/2 inches. Brush lightly with butter. Let rise until double, about 1 hour.
Heat oven to 425°. Place loaves on lower rack so that tops of pans are in center of oven. Pans should not touch each other or sides of oven. Bake until loaves are deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped, 25 to 30 minutes. Immediately remove from pans. Brush tops of loaves with butter; cool on wire racks. 2 loaves.
Cinnamon-Raisin Bread: Stir in 1 1/2 cups raisins with the second addition of flour. Mix 1/4 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon. After rolling dough into rectangles, sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon water and half of the sugar-cinnamon mixture.
Cornmeal Bread: Substitute 1 cup cornmeal for 1 cup of the second addition of flour. Sprinkle greased pans with cornmeal and sprinkle tops of loaves with cornmeal before baking.
Cracked Wheat Bread: Substitute packed brown sugar for the sugar.
Substitute 2 2/3 cups cracked wheat for 2 2/3 cups of the second addition of flour. Stir in 1/2 cup wheat germ with the second addition of flour if desired.
Egg Bread: Decrease milk to 1 3/4 cups; stir in 2 eggs with the milk.
Herb Bread: Stir in 2 teaspoons caraway seed, 1/2 teaspoon dried sage leaves and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg with the first addition of flour
Oatmeal Bread: Substitute packed brown sugar for the granulated sugar. Substitute 1 cup quick-cooking oats for 1 cup of the second addition of flour. Sprinkle greased pans with oats and sprinkle tops of loaves with oats before baking.
Raisin Bread: Stir in 1 1/2 cups raisins with the second addition of flour.
Rye Bread: Substitute 1/4 cup dark molasses for the sugar. Stir in 2 tablespoons caraway seed with the first addition of flour. Substitute 3 to 4 cups rye flour for the second addition of all-purpose flour. Shape loaves into 2 flattened rounds. Bake on greased cookie sheet.
Whole Wheat Bread: Substitute 1/4 cup honey for the sugar and whole wheat flour for the all-purpose flour.
If you don't have a thermometer, test a water drop on the inside of your wrist. Water should feel very warm, but not hot.
'Scalding' milk is basically putting it in a pot and bringing it to a watched and stirred boil so it foams a bit, then removing it from heat right away to cool. It used to be done like this before milk was pasteurized, but I've always just done it for this recipe. I always let it cool to a lukewarm state. If it's too hot, it might kill the yeast. Best to cool to the approximate temperature your water was or just lukewarm.
After the first addition of flour, beat ingredients quite vigorously with an electric mixer or wooden spoon. The wooden spoon works well for me and exercises my arms . Batter breads require vigorous beating at this point.
To knead, fold dough toward you, then push away with heels of hands in a rocking motion. Rotate dough a quarter turn and repeat until the dough starts looking smooth and blistered.
When rising dough, keep it covered with a clean, dry tea towel in a draft free place. I rise my dough in our hot water tank room...lol. Whatever works!
Dough should rise until double. You can test it by pressing your fingertips about a half inch into dough. If the indentation stays, the dough has doubled.
To punch down dough, plunge your fist into centre of dough (that's the best part). Fold over and form into a ball. That releases large air bubbles for a finer texture.
Roll the dough up as tight as possible (jellyroll fashion) to prevent large air holes in bread.
I use butter to lightly grease the bowl before the rise.
Recipe is easily doubled or tripled.
Estimated preparation time: 4+ hours