This recipe has been adapted and refined over the years. It is virtually fool-proof and ready in less than three hours. As with any recipe, be sure to read through all the directions before beginning.
This will yield one 8 inch x 4 inch x 2.5 inch loaf, one 8 inch round or square loaf, or one 8 inch heart-shaped loaf. The recipe can also easily be doubled as required.
1/2 c water, room temperature or slightly warmed
1 Tblsp brown or granulated sugar. 1 Tblsp molasses could be substituted for a different taste.
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 Tblsp butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 c all-purpose or unbleached white flour
1/4 c tepid water, if necessary
1.) In a medium-sized bowl, dissolve the sugar in the warm water. Gently stir in the yeast and allow it to foam; this usually takes about five minutes.
2.) Pour in the butter. If you use unsalted butter, add 1/4 tsp salt.
3.) Stir in the flour, half a cup at a time, until it is all incorporated. If necessary, add tepid water, a tablespoon at a time, until a sticky dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl forms.
4.) Let the dough rise, covered with a clean towel, for 10-15 minutes.
5.) Lightly grease your chosen baking pan. Carefully pour in the dough. Smooth the top with the back of a spoon and gently push towards the edges of the pan. The dough will spring back towards the centre but will spread out as it rises. Let the dough rise in a warm place for an hour to an hour and a half.
6.) Place the loaf on the centre rack of the oven and set the temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for twenty minutes or until a golden crust has formed. Turn off the oven and let the bread rest, with the oven door partially opened, for at least ten minutes.
7.) Remove the bread from the oven and run a spatula along the edges to loosen it from the pan. Allow to cool before slicing and serving.
For a sweeter, more dessert-like bread, increase the sugar to 2 Tblsp. Add 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ginger, OR pumpkin pie spice blend after stirring in the butter.
For a bread more suitable for a savoury meal, decrease the sugar to 1/2 Tblsp and increase the salt to 1/2 tsp. Add a teaspoon of granulated garlic or powdered onion with the second addition of flour, if desired.
Whichever variation of this bread you choose, it can make a delightful addition to your meals. It is also makes a nice snack when buttered and grilled.