Pay attention! Read all the instructions, gather the ingredients, read the instructions again and measure carefully.
Just three simple steps...four if you count eating it
2 cups very warm water 1/4 cup honey 2 pkgs active dry yeast
6 cups bread flour, divided 1/2 cup oil 1 TBSP salt
First, mix the honey with warm liquid and add the yeast. Give it time to come alive--about five or 10 minutes--and start working. The important thing is to get all the yeast dissolved and active.
Then mix the honey/yeast/water mixture with part of the flour, the oil and salt. Use your mixer to beat the dough long enough to develop the gluten in the flour. You'll be able to see the dough become elastic and stringy.
Last add the rest of the flour, mix well, then beat for eight minutes. Time it. This last step is a little hard to do and you can only use the mixer for the first bit of flour. After that, you'll need to mix by hand.
WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T USE A BREAD HOOK ATTACHMENT.Just use the regular beaters. Ask me how I know this!
K. Here's the recipe:
Mix together 2 cups real warm water (not hot) and 1/4 cup honey, then sprinkle 2 pkgs dry yeast over the top. Let stand until foamy. Stir down and let foam again. This is called proofing the yeast. If it doesn't foam, it's dead. Throw it out and start over! ALWAYS proof your yeast before continuing with any yeast recipe. It'll save you a lot of time and trouble.
Add 1 TBSP salt, 1/2 cup of oil, and 3 cups of unbleached (bread) flour. Mix slowly until all ingredients are moist, then beat at high speed for eight minutes.
Stir in 3 more cups of bread flour. Spray some plastic wrap with a little oil and cover dough.
Place the bowl on the middle rack of your oven and put a pan of boiling water on the bottom of the oven. Close the oven door. You've just created a warm, moist and draft-free environment for the dough to rise.
Let the dough double in size, then punch it down. Let rise again in the bowl.
Dump dough out on an oiled surface. Divide dough with a sharp knife...three pieces if you're using smaller pans or two pieces if you're using standard bread pans.
Very little kneading will be necessary if you've beaten the dough thoroughly. In fact, it's easy to over-knead because all you really need to do is to form the loaves and pinch the seams. If the dough starts to crack and its surface gets rough, you've kneaded too much.
Brush your hands with oil and form each loaf by kneading lightly. Fold in half and roll into shape. Seal the seal by pinching and place the loaf, seam side down into an oiled pan. Brush the top of the loaf with oil.
Arrange the pans on the middle rack of your oven. Replenish the hot water on the bottom and close the door.
When the dough has filled out the sides of the pan and the top is rounded, take the pan of water out and turn oven to 350F. In 20 minutes, turn the temp down to 300F and bake larger loaves for about 40 minutes longer. For smaller loaves, 25-30 minutes should do it.
To see if the bread is done, turn the loaves out on a rack. If the sides spring back when you squeeze them and the bottom and sides are nicely browned, the bread is done. If it's not done, put it back in the pans and bake a bit longer. If the bread isn't completely done, the gases haven't baked out and it'll be hard to digest. But not to worry about baking it a bit longer because it only improves the flavor.
If you want a soft crust, cool and store in plastic bags, or leave in the open air for a firmer crust.
This recipe can be varied to a light honey wheat bread by using 3 cups of whole wheat flour and 3 cups of bread flour. When I do this, I put the bread flour in first to develop the gluten; wheat flour doesn't have a lot of gluten, and that's the reason why homemade wheat bread is almost always kind of flat and heavy.