My favorite part about this bread (aside from the rave reviews that were lavished upon me all night) is that it only cost me $30 pesos, or less than $3 dollars, to make FOUR loaves.
I made two loaves in bread pans and I braided the other two loaves Challah-style. The braided loaves were beautiful, and the bread pan loaves have made some delicious sandwiches.
- 2 cups soy or cows milk (I used soy)
- 5 TB sugar
- 2 TB salt
- 4 1/2 tsp bread yeast
- 2 cups water
- 12-13 cups white flour
- 5 TB melted butter or margerine, or olive oil
- 1/2 onion, minced
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 2 tsp crushed rosemary
- Combine milk, sugar, salt, and water in a pan and heat on the stove until lukewarm (it should feel warm, not hot, on your wrist). Remove from heat and dissolve yeast in the mixture. Set aside.
- In a very large bowl (you might even want to use a Dutch oven if you don't have a very large bowl), combine half of the flour and all of the dried herbs. Add the liquid-yeast mixture from step 1. Mix until smooth, then add the melted butter or oil and the minced onion. Mix until smooth, then add the remaining flour.
- Knead the dough for ten minutes, adding more flour if the dough is too sticky. As you knead, your dough should be silky soft, elastic, and not sticky at all. It should be easy to knead the dough, although you will certainly break a sweat as you knead, because the dough will weigh about five pounds! To avoid making a huge mess on my table, I always knead my dough directly in my bowl or Dutch oven.
- Oil your bowl or Dutch oven, and place your dough ball inside. Flip the dough ball over so that the whole ball gets covered in oil. The oil will make sure the dough doesn't dry out as it rises.
- Cover the bowl containing the dough with a towel and place in a warm, draft-free place. If it's a cold or rainy day, you might need to fire up your oven for just a few minutes, then turn it off and put your dough inside to rise where it's nice and warm. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
- When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and divide it into four equal peices (I cut mine into quarters with a knife). Shape each peice into a loaf and place either in a greased bread pan or on a greased cookie sheet. Cover the loaves again with a towell and let them rise until double in size, about one hour.
- While the loaves are rising, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- When the loaves have risen, place them in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until the loaves begin to get a golden color and they sound hollow when you knock on them.
- Let the loaves cool for about ten minutes, then remove them from the pans and/or baking sheets and set them on a rack to cool. IMPORTANT! You need to let them cool completely (about an hour) before you cut them. This is very tricky if you don't live alone!