One way to make sure there is enough food on the table to feed a crowd is to add bread.
And homemade bread is one of the best ways to make a meal feel like home, and guests feel like family.
One of my dearest friends shared this recipe with me years ago. If you have a standing mixer it is quite easy to make. And if you’ve never made homemade bread, this is a good recipe to start with.
- 1 pkg (1/4 oz) active dry yeast (I buy yeast in a jar and keep it in my refrigerator. I use 1 Tablespoon for this recipe.)
- 3/4 cup warm water (110-115 degrees, if you over heat the water or the milk you will kill the yeast and the dough will not rise. So make sure the water is warm, but not hot.)
- 1 cup warm 2% milk (110-115 degrees)
- 1/4 cup butter softened
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 4 to 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur’s flour.)
- 1 egg white
- 2 teaspoons water
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon each dried minced onion, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, granulated garlic (or any combination of savory spices that your family prefers)
- In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the milk, butter, sugar, egg yolk, salt, and two cups of flour. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. (use the flat beater if you are using a standing mixer). Add remaining flour, and mix just long enough to make a firm dough.
- Turn onto a floured surface (or switch to the kneading attachment if you have a standing mixer). Knead for 6-8 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic.
- Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover with a dish cloth and let rise in a place that is free from drafts until doubled, about one hour.
- Punch down dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide dough evenly into thirds. Roll and shape each portion into a rope that is approximately 20 inches long and 2 inches in diameter.
- Pinch one end of the ropes together and braid the bread ropes together.
- Pinch and fold the ends of the loaf under. Transfer to a baking sheep covered with a piece of parchment paper.
- Cover with dish towel and let it rise again until doubled, about 45 minutes. (Set a timer for this stage. If you let the dough over rise at this stage it will collapse when you do the next step. I know this from experience!)
- Combine egg white and water; brush gently over dough. Sprinkle seasonings over bread. (I don’t measure the seasoning any more. I just sprinkle them individually from the jar over the bread. It’s a little faster and one less bowl to clean.)
- Bake at 375 degrees for 22-28 minutes or until golden brown, turning pan after 20 minutes so the loaf browns evenly.
- Remove from oven and place loaf on a wire pan for at least 10 minutes to cool before slicing. If you rush this part (or delegate it to your sons) the bread will compress as you slice it and not spring back to being light and fluffy.