Bread is all in the process of knowing the little tricks. Over the years what I have learned is that the dough MUST be kept warm at all times. If you have cold dough at any point the bread tends to be very heavy.
In your kitchen aid mixer add:
- 2 cups hot water (yes I said hot, because my metal bowl is always cold, so by the time I add the yeast it is actually the preferred warm temperature)
- To this add 1/4 cup white sugar, and stir until dissolved
- 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast, remember to check the expiry date!
Once you see the yeast start to bubble and become foamy add to the bowl
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 6 cups all purpose flour (adding this one cup at a time)
Using your bread hook (Kitchen Aid Mixer is what I use but you can do this by hand as well) incorporate flour until it forms a ball. Turn out onto a lightly floured service and knead for 5 minutes.
Empty the large bowl of hot water into your sink and dry with a towel. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to bowl so that the dough won't stick to the sides. Plunk the bread dough into the bowl face down, twirl it around to coat it evenly with oil and cover with a towel. I use my heating pad underneath the bowl on the low setting to make sure my dough stays warm during the entire process. Allow to rise until doubled in size, this usually takes about 1 1/2 hours.
*** You can also add a handful of raisins and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon to 1/2 of the dough when you punch it down, if you would like raisin bread for one loaf.