I don’t believe there’s anything better than a loaf of homemade bread, fresh out of the oven, sliced and slathered with melting butter. Homemade bread smells delicious, tastes delicious… but can be incredibly daunting to make if you’ve never done it before. My mother has been making her own bread since the 1970s, and passed on her recipe to me years ago. I’ve since tweaked and modified it, and come up with a recipe that is simple enough that anyone can make it. If you have a stand mixer, it’s even easier. It takes just 6 ingredients and about 15 minutes of hands-on time. So let’s get to it!
1 1/2 c. warm water
1 packet of instant yeast (I use Fleischmann’s)
3 T. honey
4.5 cups flour, divided
1/4 c. oil
1 tsp. salt
Pour the water into your stand mixer bowl. It should be warm to the touch, not hot. Add honey, yeast, and 1 cup of flour. Stir to combine and then let sit about 20 minutes. The mixture will look bubbly and creamy.
Add oil, salt and remaining 3.5 cups flour. Attach the bowl to a stand mixer with the dough hook. Turn on the mixer and let it run for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture has formed a dough. If the dough sticks to the bottom or sides of the bowl, add another 1/4 c. flour.
Once the dough is formed, turned off the mixer and remove the bowl. Lightly coat the dough and the inside of the bowl with oil. Cover the bowl with a dish towel and let the dough rise for about an hour and a half. You can also cover the bowl with saran wrap and let the dough rise in the fridge for a few hours or up to overnight, as long as the dough is well oiled.
When you are ready to bake, remove the towel or saran wrap, punch down the risen dough with your first, and pour the dough onto the counter. Form the dough into a rectangle roughly the size of your loaf pan, making sure to press out any air bubbles you see in the dough. Lightly oil the dough and the loaf pan, and put the dough in.
Turn the oven on to 350 degrees. When the oven gets up to temperature, take a knife and cut three small slits in the top of the dough to let the steam out. Put the pan in the oven and bake for 50 minutes. At this point, the bread will look lightly tan and crusty. Take the bread out of the oven and remove it from the pan immediately. Let the bread cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing. Enjoy.
This recipe can be customized as much, or as little, as you’d like. My kids prefer this bread as-is, but you can try substituting some whole wheat flour for white flour. Or add some oats or wheat bran when you add the salt. Consider dusting the top of your loaf with cornmeal before baking. Whatever sounds tasty to you. Bake, eat, enjoy, repeat.