I love a good slice of bread covered with butter. It goes perfect with all kinds of dishes or quite honestly by itself. I try to limit snacking on bread but I can’t always help it, especially when it’s really good bread. If you’re looking for an easy and tasty bread to go with your pasta or chicken dish, this is a perfect pick for that.
The original recipe states that it makes 2 loaves. Holy cow would those be HUGE. I cut this recipe in half and my loaves were easily five or more inches wide and over a foot long. My measurements are totally just a guess but man oh man, those must be some mighty loaves if you make a full batch. So, I’m going to give you the reduced batch since when I made this, my loaves were pretty darn big and still made two. In the future I’ll probably still do the reduced half batch, but freeze half of the dough… unless we’re having a crowd of people over.
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water, divided
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp shortening
1/2 tbsp salt
4 - 4 1/2 cups flour
In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Water temperature should be roughly 110 degrees. If it's too hot it will kill the yeast. The easiest way to judge without a thermometer is to get the water warmer than room temp but not so hot that it begins to hurt your hand. Hot water is bad. Warm water is good.
Add in remaining ingredients minus flour. A tip on the eggs: use tbsp measuring spoon to scoop out and eyeball aproximately half of your beaten egg. Mix well. Add in 1 cup of flour at a time. Remember to scrape the sides of your bowl as you go. Continue adding in flour, beating well until it is smooth and a nice smooth doughy consistency. Lightly flour your counter or other location of choice, transfer your dough to floured work space. Knead dough for 5-8 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Grease a medium to large size bowl. Toss in your dough, then flip so both sides have a bit of oil on it. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough sit in a warm location for about an hour or until doubled in size. If you don't have plastic wrap, as I realised I didn't when getting to the last step, tape a gallon size plastic bag to the top of your bowl. It works great and you can still use the bag after! I'm so not a fan of plastic wrap to begin with and this gives me reason to not buy it in the future. Yay plastic bags!
Once your dough has doubled in size, punch it down. Flour your work space again. Divide your dough in half and shape each into a loaf. Place each on a greased baking sheet, or both on one as I did. Trust me, there is plenty of room if you're using a standard size pan. Just be sure to angle them. With a sharp knife, make 4 or 5 slashes in the top of each loaf. Cover and let rise for another hour or until they've just about doubled. Yes, more waiting.
Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is a nice golden brown. Cool loaves on a wire rack. You'll want to slice and devour right then and there, wait. Let it cool off a bit. There is a reason you don't ever slice into freshly baked bread of any kind. If you're baking a dish for dinner, this is the perfect time to pop it in the oven and allow your bread proper cooling time.