Really–there is nothing that compares to this! I just pulled two loaves out of the oven and they are cooling on the rack. After rubbing the nicely-browned crusts with butter (helps keep the crust soft), I whipped up a batch of Raspberry Butter.
There are a few keys to making the perfect loaf of bread:
- Use good flour (Gold Medal Bread Flour or King Arthur All-Purpose Flour)
- Fresh yeast is imperative; yeast can be stored in the freezer for at least one year and still produce a hearty loaf
- Use a thermometer and pull your bread when it hits 195º in the middle. This will yield a perfectly tender loaf
- Store properly by wrapping your loaf in two layers of saran wrap; stored this way, it will last up to 5 days. If you prefer to freeze for layer, wrap two layers of aluminum foil and freeze for up to two months. Thaw to room temperature without unwrapping bread.
With all the hype on eating more whole grains, I often substitute half the bread flour in the recipe for white whole wheat flour. I really like the white whole wheat, as it has all the nutrition of wheat, but a nice, lighter color. Same flavor and health benefit, but a prettier loaf. Who can complain?