There isn't much that can surpass the aroma of freshly baked bread, hot out of the oven and steaming with goodness, unless it's the knowledge that you made it yourself.
Many, many years ago, while I was still single, I lifted a recipe from my local newspaper that has proven to live up to the author's claim of "the true, one and only never-fail recipe for home-baked bread." It's a bit of a time commitment that's well worth the effort.
Put about 7 cups of flour in a large mixing bowl, sprinkle on the yeast and mix thoroughly.
Put milk and water in a pan and heat it gently, stirring in the honey, salt and vegetable oil.
I use 100% sunflower oil for baking for its light flavour and I find that it works just as effectively as any of the other oils.
Beat up the egg and lemon juice and keep it aside. I prefer to use the juice of real lemons, although the condensed version will work just as well.
When the stuff in the pan is close to hot - slightly uncomfortable to a clean finger - and all is dissolved, mix it into the flour. Then add the egg and mix till it's smooth.
Stir in another couple of cups of flour, but as soon as it's manageable, dump it out on a well-floured surface and knead it vigorously, adding flour bit by bit until, after 10 minutes, it should be non-sticky and firm enough to almost keep its shape. If you don't have flour on yourself by this point, you're not doing it right.
Wash out the big bowl, lightly grease it, form the dough into a ball, roll it over in the bowl to oil the top, and put it in the oven to rise. Turn the oven light on to take the chill off. I always cover my dough with a clean dishtowel, as well, to keep the surface from drying out.
When the dough is about doubled in size (40 minutes or so), punch it down and let it rise again.
Then punch it down, cut it into four equal pieces and sort of jellyroll and pinch each one into a large sausage shape for your non-stick (or lightly oiled) bread pans. I lightly oil my non-stick pans, just to make sure.
The final rising in the pans is slower than the other two and may take well over an hour to rise well above the edges of the pans. I have barely enough room in my oven for four bread pans, so I stagger them which allows the warm air to circulate more freely and the bread cooks more evenly.
Bake it at about 400° for up to 40 minutes, when it should be golden brown on top, a little darker on the bottom. I've found that I get better results in a 350° oven. Tip out and cool on racks. Makes 4 loaves.
Use a very sharp breadknife and a rapid sawing motion to pirate a slice or two while it's hot, aromatic and irresistible.
Don't ever buy bread again.
2 packets Fleischmann's yeast (no other type will do)
About 11 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 heaping Tbsps. liquid honey
4 tsps. salt
1 large egg
Dash lemon juice
2 cups 2 per cent milk
2 cups water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
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