My kids LOVE baking bread. It makes sense… we come from a baking family. My great-grandmother Bessie was working in a German bakery in the Yukon Territory at age 16. And everyone who knew her had a story to tell about her amazing Finnish breads and sweets! Her son (my grandpa, Howard) was famous for his home-baked bread – I don’t think they EVER ate anything store-bought. My mother, Judy was always a wiz with quick breads and has become quite a master of the gluten-free loaf, and I suppose I just followed suit.
I’ve been baking bread with my kids since they were babies, and this is probably the recipe we make the most. It’s a riff on a basic Amish White Bread recipe and it is super simple to make. It is delicious, has a nice tender crumb, and couldn’t be easier to make. I prefer wheat breads for the extra structure and hint of sweetness so I sub in some whole wheat flour, but if you prefer white flour just use all white. I honestly think anyone could make this recipe successfully. Give it a try – I dare you!!
2 cups warm water (~100 degrees)
2/3 cup white sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 vegetable oil
2 cups whole wheat flour
4 cups white all-purpose flour
Makes 2 loaves.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, dissolve the sugar and yeast into the warm water. Set aside for 5 minutes until the mixture is frothy and smells like yeast. Whisk in salt, oil, and 2 cups of the flour (I do one of each but it probably doesn’t matter) until smooth. Move the bowl to the stand mixer and attach the dough hook. With the mixer on a medium-low setting (2 or 3 on Kitchen Aid), add the remaining 4 cups of flour one cup at a time.
When the flour is mostly absorbed, turn off the mixer and let the dough rest for about 10 minutes. Then turn it back on and knead for 10 minutes. They dough should look smooth and have a lot of stretch at this point. Take the dough out of your bowl and knead it by hand a few times on a lightly floured or greased surface. Grease the inside of the mixing bowl and return the dough to the bowl. Cover with plastic, set in a warm place and let rise for 1 hour – or until doubled in size.
Once dough has risen, punch it down with your fists (this is a terrific kids job! Make sure their hands are washed first). Turn dough back out on to your floured (or greased) surface.
Cut into two equal(ish) pieces. Flatten each piece into a 10×10-inch rectangle. Roll up each piece of dough and tuck into a lightly greased bread pan*. Set aside to rise a second time for only 30 minutes.This is a good time to preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Gently place the loaf pans in the oven, bake for 30 minutes. NOTE: You might be tempted to take it out of the oven sooner – the top will be brown, the intoxicating smell will be wafting through the house, the family will be whining… this loaf needs to cook the whole 30 mins or it WILL be undercooked in the middle. There is no way to check without ruining the bread so you just have to trust me. Let the loaves rest for 10 minutes before removing them from the pans. Then place them on a doubled-up kitchen town to rest for (I’M SORRY!) another 10 minutes before cutting into them. I acknowledge that this is pure torture. Let cool fully (if there is actually any bread left) before storing in an air-tight bag.