bread night

I noticed that we were low on bread yesterday so I decided to bake a loaf. I must tell you that this recipe and methodology is the simplest way to bake bread I have ever come across. I mean when somebody says that they baked bread the image comes to mind of an exhaustive day of kneading, rising and baking. I decided to bake a loaf at around 6:30 and it was out of the oven by 8:30. Most of this two hour time in preparing the bread was spent sitting on the couch watching The Nature of Things on boxee.

Now granted, this is not the artisan bread that we are accustomed to eating from places like Bon Ton Bakery, Dauphine Bakery & Bistro or even Avenue Homesteader's latest creation, but it is a nice tasting and healthful loaf of bread that is great for sandwiches and toast. It is easy to make because if I can do it...it is easy. 

1.5 cups of milk in a sauce pan heated to around 100 degrees. Add 2 tsp of yeast and 2 Tblsp of honey once it gets to temperature. Stir in the yeast and honey till well mixed and set it aside while you prepare the other ingredients. It will begin to bubble and foam within 10-15 minutes.
In our Kitchen Aid mixer I place 4 cups of flour.
Get ready:
2 tsp of salt (don't add the salt to the flour just yet.)
1/4 cup of oil. We use organic olive oil but melted butter works too or whatever.

Now that the yeast mixture is working away there should be a layer of foam on top. Turn on the mixer with the bread hook attachment and add the milk/yeast/honey to the flour. Then add the oil. Once it has mixed a bit you can slowly add the salt.

I let the mixer knead the dough for around 10 minutes or so. While it is working I grease/flour a bread pan.
Once the dough is kneaded it will be very elastic feeling and slightly moist to the touch. Shape it to the bread pan and place the pan in a warm spot with a light kitchen towel over top. I flour the top of the loaf so it doesn't stick to the towel. We place the pan on the floor in front of the wood stove where it is nice a cozy. Last night I let it raise like that for about an hour. You can let it go as long as you like I suppose. Pop it in a 375 degree oven for 45 mins and the picture is what you should end up with.