It may seem daunting, but do it enough times and it becomes something you can bang out after you get home from work, make & eat dinner in the time it takes to rise, & have bread to make sandwiches for lunch the next day.
I have tried a few different recipes, but this one is the easiest, quickest, and has the most common ingredients. It gets the job done, which is soft, white fluffy insides with crunchy delicious crust outsides.
375* for 30 minutes
3/4 c. warm water
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (amount of one packet)
1 T. shortening
1 tsp. salt
1.5 T sugar
1/2 c. milk
2-3 c. flour (I use bread flour, you may use any kind you have)
Add water to large bowl and slowly stir in yeast (I sprinkle it on top, then stir). Add salt, sugar, shortening (cut into pieces) & milk. Stir. Mix in first 2 cups of flour. Add more flour, 1 heaping T. at a time, until the dough comes together and holds together as you stir it around the bowl.
Turn dough onto floured surface and flour your hands, kneading until dough is soft & smooth, not sticky. Don’t clean up that floured surface, you will need it again later.
Put dough in clean, buttered bowl (Butter can be replaced with oil. I use the same bowl after cleaning the dried dough out of it, saves on dishes and I only have 2 mixing bowls. Boyfriend likes to mess them up with popcorn too.), and turn dough over so top is greased.
Cover with plastic wrap. I just started buttering the inside of the plastic wrap, which will help when your dough has filled the bowl and the entire area of the wrap. Let rise for 1 hour in a warm spot. I like to turn the oven on and let it rise on the stove top. Under a vent would be fine too, provided you don’t like a cold house.
After the hour, punch the dough down with floured fists and again, turn onto floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes. Remember to continue to add flour as the dough sucks up whats on your surface. You will need to continually keep your hands and surface floured so your dough doesn’t stick to everything.
Form dough into a loaf and set into a buttered pan. Cover and let rise for 30-40 minutes. Score dough by cutting 3 slashes with a razor at top (looks nice, but I don’t think its really that important). Put in oven and bake until golden brown. Bake for full 30 minutes — it will look ready sooner, but its not. Cool bread on rack or clean dish towel.