As the cooler weather approaches, my baking kicks into overdrive. There is just nothing better than a kitchen that smells like homemade bread. I have played with a few recipes over the last couple weeks, and this is my favorite. It is an adaptable recipe that can be easily manipulated by adding different variations of seasonings and spices. YUM.
- 2 c. warm water (works best between 100-110F)
- 2 packets of active yeast (2 tbsp.)
- 1/3 c. white sugar
- 1/3 c. vegetable oil
- 2 tsp. fine sea salt
- 4-6 c. flour (can use all purpose flour or bread flour... I usually do both!)
- Large bowl and butter to coat it (this is where the bread will rise)
- Parchment paper is not required, but it bakes well on it!
Total Servings: One braided loaf as pictured (or two standard loaf pans)
- Preheat oven to 375F
- In a stand mixer (with paddle attachment) or large bowl, combine warm water and yeast. Stir until completely dissolved (about 1 minute).
- Add in all ingredients but flour; Stir to combine.
- Slowly add flour a cup at a time. I usually add about 5 cups.
- On a clean, floured surface (usually my counter) – knead the dough for about five minutes. NOTE: If you have a stand mixer, you may keep the dough on level 2-3 with the paddle attachment. Add flour if too sticky. You should be able to manage it without it ending up all over your hands.
- Ball the dough into one large clump. Place in a buttered bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. I use a large metal bowl and place it in the oven at 170F to rise. Room temperature on the counter is fine, too. I have found the the heat helps it to rise faster. Let this happen for 1.5-2 hours… It should triple in size!
- Remove the dough from the bowl on your floured surface. I always have a cup or so of flour set aside at this point to use when kneading. Keep kneading for about 3 minutes. Split the dough into three equal parts.
- Roll each section into a rope with your hands. They need to be about the same thickness and length.
- Line up your three dough ropes and begin braiding.
- Place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and cover with the same towel. Let rise for 30-45 minutes.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes at 375F. Baste with butter…It is melt in your mouth good.
Additional seasoning options (mix in before flour):
- 2 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. nutmeg
- 2 tsp. oregano, 2 tsp. garlic powder, 2 tsp. onion powder
- 2 tsp. Italian seasoning, 2 tsp. ground mustard
- Depending on your flavor profile, you can press a garnish into the dough after the final round of kneading is complete. There is not a wrong or right way to do this. I usually visually add until it looks good! Some of my favorites include sesame seeds, chia seeds, flaxseed, oats… the options are endless!