I absolutely love homemade white bread, which is why I don't make it very often - it's just too tempting. Seriously, there is nothing better than a thick slice of homemade bread with butter and jam. YUM. It's so comforting and homey. I love this particular recipe because it's easy and the bread is delicious with just the right homemade bread texture - not too fluffy, but not too dense. My whole family loves this bread.
Basic White Bread
2 cups warm water
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
5-7 cup white bread flour
1 tablespoon shortening
1 tablespoon butter, melted (to brush on finished loaves)
Place yeast and 1/2 tablespoon of sugar in a 4-cup measuring cup or a medium bowl. Pour warm water over the yeast mixture and let sit for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (I use a Bosch), combine melted butter, salt, sugar, and evaporated milk. Mix together. When yeast mixture has sat for 15-20 minutes add to the mixer bowl. Add in 3 cups of flour and mix with dough hook. Add in 1 cup of flour at time and mix. When you get to 5 cups of flour in the mixer bowl, add in 1/2 cup more of flour at a time until the dough is no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl (for me it was 6 cups of flour total, though it will vary according to your climate). You'll know it's ready when the dough is no longer sticky. Knead dough with dough hook on high for 5 minutes.
Cover the sides of a large bowl with the tablespoon of shortening. Remove dough from mixer and form into a ball. Place dough ball into the greased bowl, turning to cover all sides of dough with grease. Cover with a warm towel or plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray and set in a warm place to rise. Allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
When dough has risen punch down and place on a floured surface. Knead dough for about 2 minutes to remove air bubbles as much as possible. Cut dough in 2 equal pieces. Take one piece and roll out into a small rectangle. Roll dough into a loaf, starting with the short end. Tuck under ends, pinching in the seams to form a nice loaf. Place into a greased bread pan. Repeat with other half of dough. Cover formed loaves loosely with plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray.
Let loaves rise again, until doubled, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. They should look almost like a loaf of bread in height when they are risen enough. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden browned on top. Remove from oven and brush tops with melted butter. Remove from bread pans and place on a rack to cool.