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Source: FamilyTime Favorites

Perfect White Bread
Bread needs time to rise in a warm place, but the mixing, kneading, and shaping takes only minutes -- and is easy enough for a youngster.
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Serves: makes two 8-inch loaves
Prep Time: 120 minutes
Cook Time: 30 to 35
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6 to 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 packages active dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter, or margarine

In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together 3 cups of the flour, the sugar, yeast, and salt. Whisk several times to mix.

In a small saucepan, combine the water, milk, and butter or margarine. Heat over low heat until the butter melts but the mixture is only warm -- not hot. It should be 120 to 130 degrees F.

Slowly pour the liquid into the flour. Turn the mixer of low and start beating to incorporate. Increase the speed to medium and mix until blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Remove the bowl from the mixer. Add 2 to 3 more cups of flour, or enough to make a soft dough. Stir with a wooden spoon. The dough will look caked and dry.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, adding more flour as necessary, until smooth and elastic. Use the heel of your hands to push the dough away from you as you knead, and then pull it back over itself. Give the dough quarter turns as you work. This will soon become easy and natural.

Lightly grease a bowl. Gather the dough into a mass and put it in the bowl. Rotate it in the bowl to coat with grease. (If you don't want to bake 2 loaves right away, divide the dough in half and freeze half of it in a plastic freezer bag for up to a month.)

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a dishtowel and set in a warm, draft-free place to rise. You can also let the dough rise in a switched-off oven with a bowl of hot water to warm it up. Let the dough rise for 30 to 60 minutes until doubled in bulk. When you poke it with your finger, the indent will stay in place rather than spring back.

Using the heel of your hand or a loose fist, punch the dough to expel the air. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a 2 to 3 minutes.

Divide the dough in half. For each loaf, roll the dough into a 12-by-7-inch rectangle. Beginning at the short end, roll it up jelly-roll fashion. Pinch the seams and ends to seal.

Put each loaf, seam side down, in a greased 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pan. Cover the pans and set aside to rise in a warm draft-free place for about 1 hour until nearly doubled.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bake the bread on the center rack of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown and the loaves sound hollow when removed from the pans and tapped on the bottom. Turn out of the pans and let them cool on wire racks.

Slice the bread when cool. A cooled, baked loaf freezes well for about a month.

Note: If you have frozen dough, thaw the dough in the plastic bag in the refrigerator or on the countertop (up to 12 hours in the refrigerator and up to 8 hours on the countertop). It will rise slightly in the bag. Once it's thawed, remove it from the bag and shape it into a loaf. Let it rise as instructed for the second rise and bake as directed.

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