Sunday, December 18, 2016

Betty Crocker's Classic White Bread

This is the best white bread I've ever made. The ingredients are like those in every other bread recipe, but this particular combination results in a perfect fragrant, moist loaf. I borrowed the details from this web page. 
If you've ever read any of Philip R. Craig's Martha's Vineyard Mysteries, you will remember that this bread recipe is mentioned in almost every single book. Craig's hero, J.W. Jackson, makes his white bread in batches of four loaves. To do the same, just double this recipe. 
This same recipe also appears in Craig's cookbook, Delish, which I couldn't resist buying after reading the Vineyard series and wondering about the delicious-sounding meals that J.W. cooks for his family. The book also contains some great ways to prepare fish.

6 to 7 cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour* or Better for Bread® bread flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons shortening
2 packages regular or quick active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
2 1/4 cups very warm water (120° to 130°F)
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted, if desired

  • In large bowl, stir 3 1/2 cups of the flour, the sugar, salt, shortening and yeast until well mixed. Add warm water. Beat with electric mixer on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour, 1 cup at a time, to make dough easy to handle.
  • Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead about 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy. Grease large bowl with shortening. Place dough in bowl, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place 40 to 60 minutes or until dough has doubled in size. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.
  • Grease bottoms and sides of two 8x4-inch or 9x5-inch loaf pans with shortening or spray with cooking spray.
  • Gently push fist into dough to deflate. Divide dough in half. Flatten each half with hands or rolling pin into 18x9-inch rectangle on lightly floured surface. Roll dough up tightly, beginning at 9-inch side. Press with thumbs to seal after each turn. Pinch edge of dough into roll to seal. Pinch each end of roll to seal. Fold ends under loaf. Place seam side down in pan. Brush loaves lightly with butter. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place 35 to 50 minutes or until dough has doubled in size.
  • Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 425°F.
  • Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until loaves are deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pans to wire rack. Brush loaves with butter; cool.

Note: I've found that if I wait until the following morning after baking, cooling, and storing the loaves in plastic bags I can easily slice them up for freezing. 

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