Homemade bread costs less than 50 cents a loaf and tastes better than any store bought bread. Try this step-by-step recipe for how to make your own bread.
6 to 7 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons shortening
2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) regular or quick active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups very warm water (120 to 130 degrees)
2 tablespoons gluten (optional)
Mix 3 1/2 cups of the flour, sugar, salt, shortening and yeast in large bowl. Add warm water. Beat with electric mixer until all is combined. (Use dough hook attachment if you have one.)
Stir in enough remaining flour, 1 cup at a time, to make dough easy to handle. Remember that less is more when it comes to flour and bread baking!
If you have a dough hook, allow your mixer to knead your bread for a couple minutes or until the dough is smooth and springy to touch. If you do not have a dough hook, remove the dough from the mixer and place on a lightly floured surface. Knead for about 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy.
Place dough in large bowl greased with shortening, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap or a thin kitchen towel. Let dough rise in a warm place 40 to 60 minutes or until double. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.
Grease bottom and sides of 2 loaf pans, 8.5 by 4.5 or 9 by 5 size, with shortening. I recommend using non-stick loaf pans and skipping this step.
Gently push fist into dough to deflate. Divide dough in half.
Flatten each half with hands into a 9 by 12 inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Roll dough up rightly, beginning at 9 inch side. Pinch edge of dough into roll to seal. Press each end with side of hand to seal. Fold ends under loaf.
Place seam side of loaf down in bread pan. Brush loaves lightly with butter. (Optional, and I usually skip this step.) Cover loosely with plastic wrap or light towel and let rise in warm place 35 to 50 minutes or until double.
When your bread has doubled and risen above the pan, remove plastic wrap or towel. Leave the bead in the oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bake your bread for 20 minutes, setting timer from the time you start to preheat the oven.
Loaves are done baking when they are a deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove bread from pans to cool on wire wrap. Brush loaves with butter, if so desired.