2 cups hot scalded milk
1/3 cup sugar (or honey)
2 tablespoons (OR 2 packets) of dry yeast
1/2 cup very warm (NOT hot) water
1 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup shortening (or oil, or butter)
1 and 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 and 1/2 cups water (I use cold water, and I'll explain below)
10-12 cups of all-purpose flour (about 3#)
Measure out the amount of flour in the recipe (that doesn't mean you will need all of it, and it doesn't mean you won't need a bit more). Set aside.
1. First, I heat the 2 cups of milk with 1/3 cup of sugar until 'scalding' point, stirring until sugar dissolved.
2. Put the cold shortening into the milk (this helps to cool it more quickly). Also, add the salt and stir well to dissolve. I now add the 1 and 1/2 cups of water (I use cold so I don't have to wait as long for the hot milk to cool to 'lukewarm'.)
3. In a large bowl, sprinkle the 2 packets (or 2 tbsp.) dry yeast into the 1/2 cup of warm water to which the teaspoon of sugar is added. The sugar helps to activate the yeast. Let this sit until you notice the yeast mixture 'bubbling up'.
4. Once the yeast mixture has 'bubbled up' and the milk mixture is cooled down to lukewarm, combine the two.
5. Now, I immediately start adding flour. I start by adding just 6 cups, stir it well and let everything sit for 15 minutes (this allows/helps the gluten to form). Next, I continue adding flour, one cup at a time and stirring between each. Very soon, you will get to the point where you have to abandon the wooden spoon and switch to kneading. After you start kneading, you will continue adding flour--just a little at a time until the dough is 'less sticky, and more elastic'. (Caution: If you keep adding flour until it is NOT sticky at all, your bread will be heavy.) It's nice to get to a point in your bread baking skill when you just KNOW when to quit adding more flour, when you just KNOW how the dough should feel-- and, you will get that point!
6. Knead for 5-10 minutes, or until it feel 'satiny' and 'alive'.
7. Place into a buttered or oiled bowl. Tip over so that the oiled surface is up. Cover with 'oiled or sprayed' Saran wrap and let rise in warm place (85 degrees is great) for about 1-2 hours or until 'doubled' (this depends quite a bit on the warmth of the area where it's rising).
8. Punch dough down by plunging fist into center. Shape into ball shape, again, and let rest for 30-minutes.
~~~Prepare loaf pans by greasing them with shortening-- don't forget the corners.~~~
9. Divide into 3 equal-sized balls and allow to rest for about 15 minutes with the large bowl covering all.
10. Shape into loaves by rolling each ball into a rectangular shape and then tightly rolling into loaf shape. Seal edges tightly.
11. Let rise until the dough fills the pan and the tops are about 1" above the pan (about 60-90 minutes.)
12. Pre-heat oven to 425-degrees. Bake bread for only 15 minutes at that high heat to 'set the shape of the loaves', and then reduce the oven temperature to 350-degrees and bake for about another 30 minutes. Bread will sound 'hollow' when you knock on it with your knuckles. Remove bread from pans and put it on a cooling rack of sorts and butter the crusts. Cover with a smooth towel until cool. (My mother would stick her fresh/hot loaves of bread into a brown paper bag that she saved for that-- because that worked so well, I do it, too. )
13. When bread is cool, I put the extra loaves into 'freezer bags' and tuck 'em away until needed. So-o-o-o good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!