Recipe of the Week
Fail-proof white bread
1 Tbsp. dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 tsp. honey
4 cups hot water
3 Tbsp. shortening
1 Tbsp. salt
3 Tbsp. honey
8 cups unbleached flour
Stir the yeast into 1/2 cup warm water and add the 1/2 tsp. of honey. Let sit until you are ready for it.
In a large bowl, add the hot water, shortening, salt, and the rest of the honey. Stir until honey is dissolved and the shortening has melted.
Sift 5 cups of flour into the liquid in large bowl and beat well with a whisk or wooden spoon. Let mixture cool to lukewarm and add yeast mixture. Again beat well. Add the remaining flour, 1 cup at a time. You want a dough that you can barely mix with a wooden spoon, held just above the spoon part.
Flour your kneading surface and dump the dough out onto the board. Flour your hands and begin kneading the dough. Add flour, as needed (no more than 1/2 cup at a time). If it is sticky, add more flour, a bit at a time, under the dough, and on your hands. When it seems more “workable,” let it rest on the floured board while you wash out the mixing bowl with hot water. Dry it and return to your kneading.
Knead the dough ball until it feels alive and springy. Grease the bowl and rub the top of the ball in this grease, then turn it over so the top is nicely greased. Cover with a warm, damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled.
When the dough is ready (2 finger indentations on top remain for a minute), punch it down well. Grease 2 bread pans and form the dough into 2 loaves, leaving the tops smooth and the ends neatly tucked under. Again, cover with kitchen towel and let rise until nearly double. Preheat oven to 400°. Bake for 45 minutes until the top is nicely browned and sounds hollow when tapped with finger.
Remove the bread from the oven and butter the tops to soften them and give them a beautiful sheen. Remove from the pans and let them cool.