Big Beautiful White Pan Loaves
- 1/4 cup, (2 ounces) very warm water (105 degrees to 115 degrees)
- 1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 4 1/2 cups, (20 1/4 ounces) unbleached allpurpose flour
- 2 1/4 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons, (11 ounces) cool water ( 75 degrees)
In a small measuring cup, mix the warm water and yeast with a fork to dissolve the yeast. Let stand for 3 minutes.
Mix the flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast mixture and the cool water. Using your fingers, mix the dough into a sticky mass.
When all of the flour is incorporated, move the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead for 4 minutes. The dough should be sticky and will not look smooth. If the dough feels stiff or dry, knead in additional cool water, a tablespoon at a time.
Put the dough in a lightly floured bowl, cover, and let rest for 20 minutes.
Return the dough to the lightly floured surface and knead it for 7 to 8 minutes. The dough will go from being sticky to smooth and will become supple but not too firm.
Place the dough in a clean bowl lightly dusted with flour. Cover the bowl with a towel and allow the dough to rise at room temperature (75 to 77 degrees) for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until it doubles in volume. (An indentation made by poking your finger deep into the dough should not spring back.)
Place the dough on a very lightly floured surface. Gently deflate the dough and pat it into a rectangle. The short sides should be the top and bottom edges. Fold the top edge down and the bottom edge up, overlapping them slightly, then turn the dough a quarter turn and fold the top down and the bottom up again to form an envelope. Shape the dough into a log shape by rolling the loaf down two to three times and sealing the seam with the heel of your palm. Roll the loaf back and forth on the table to smooth out.
Let the loaf rise at 75 degrees to 77 degrees for about 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until it has doubled and risen about 1-inch above the edge of the pan.
Meanwhile preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Gently place the loaf pan on the center rack of the oven. Using a plant sprayer, quickly mist the loaf with water 6 to 8 times, then shut the oven door. After 3 minutes, mist the loaf again.
Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees and bake for 30 minutes longer, or until the top is a deep golden brown. Remove the loaf from the pan it should come out with ease. The bread should sound slightly hollow when tapped on the bottom, and the sides of the loaf should be brown. Immediately place the loaf from the pan on a wire rack to cool. Serve slightly warm, with butter and lots of homemade jam!
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