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Monday, May 18, 2009
There is nothing better than homemade bread, and I like to keep a variety of it on hand. This recipe is one of my favorites because it is easy to make and you get a lot of product for your time. I can crank out six long loaves in the same time it takes me to turn out two loaves of other breads. I also like it's flavor. It's somewhat sweet, which is a nice change of pace.
There are two main things that I use this bread for. It makes the best darn garlic toast EVER and it makes a great sandwich bread. My favorite sandwich combination for this bread is salami, ham, and cheese with lettuce and tomato. It's to die for!!
This bread is the perfect freezer keeper. Make one batch and get six loaves. Keep one out and wrap the rest. Freeze until needed. Because the loaves have a fairly small diameter, they thaw quickly on the counter. They can be a little challenging to wrap, as they are so long (about 14 inches), so I wrap them in plastic wrap instead of trying to fit them in a plastic bag.
Yield: 6 - 14" loaves
3 cups warm water
4 tsp instant yeast OR 2 packages active dry yeast
1 cup sugar
3 TBS olive oil
8 cups flour
1 TBS salt
Mix the water, yeast, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and let stand 5-10 minutes. Using a paddle attachment, add the egg, oil, and 5 cups of the flour. Mix on medium-low speed for 8 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining 3 cups of flour and the salt. Mix on low (2nd speed on my KitchenAid) for another 3-5 minutes until the dough is well mixed and smooth. Spray a large bowl with oil, pour the dough into this bowl, spray with oil and then cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Place bowl in a warm place to rise until double, about an hour.
Once the dough has doubled, punch it down to get all the air bubbles out. Let covered dough sit for ten minutes. Turn dough out on a floured counter. Divide dough into 6 equal portions. Shape dough into 6 long loaves. They do not have to look perfect, as they will poof up before baking. I place 3 loaves the long way on each of two half sheet pans (11x17 cookie sheet). Spray with oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until double, about 40 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. When oven is preheated, remove the plastic wrap and place loaves in the oven. Bake until a thermometer inserted in the center of a loaf reaches 190 degrees, about 30 minutes. If you do not have a convection oven, you will want to swap racks halfway through the baking so that the pans spend half of the time on each shelf.
Remove from oven and remove onto cooling racks until completely cool. Wrap in plastic wrap and store at room temperature or freeze for later use.