Growing up, Thanksgiving meant a couple of things— turkey (of course), cranberry relish with lots of orange peel and three loaves of golden crusted white bread. My Dad didn't cook much, he was the grill master of red meat and chicken and the kitchen was my Mom's domain— except on Thanksgiving. The whir of the KitchenAid mixer in the morning meant soon there would be three loaves, covered with striped dish towels, in the oven with the door ajar and we would have to keep the back door shut. Loaves of bread need a warm incubator to reach their fullest potential and cold November air was to be avoided at all costs. For as long as I can remember, every Thanksgiving there are two or three loaves of freshly baked bread on a wire cooling rack next to the ovens. The smell of bread baking takes me right back to my Mom's kitchen, which became my Dad's bakery every Thanksgiving.
For the first time in many years, we didn't go to Minneapolis for Thanksgiving. Jack came home for the holiday and we wanted to spend the entire four days in Bayfield, like the 'old days'. Making two loaves of good old-fashioned white bread was a way to bring my family in Minneapolis into our Bayfield Thanksgiving. It worked. The whir of the mixer, the yeasty smell of bread rising, the loaf pans covered in dish towels and the loaves cooling on the counter were exactly what I remembered from my childhood kitchen. Freshly baked bread as a time travel device, who knew?
Good Old Fashioned White Bread
2 1/2 cups warm water
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 tbsp. yeast ( I use SAF instant yeast)
7 cups bread flour
Add the water, butter, honey, salt and yeast in the mixer bowl and stir to combine. Using the dough hook, gradually add the flour, a cup at a time until incorporated. Knead the dough for 5 minutes or until smooth but not sticky. If it's a little sticky, add about 1/4 cup of flour at a time until it's soft but not sticky.
Let the dough rise in a buttered and covered container for about an hour or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter two regular sized loaf pans.
Divide the dough in half and roll the dough into an oblong shape. Roll it up into a cylinder, tuck the ends under and pinch the seam together. Place the bread, seam side down, in the buttered loaf pans and let rise, in a warm place, for another hour or so.
Place the bread in the oven and cook for about 30 minutes. Bread is down when it makes a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom or reaches an internal temperature of 195 degrees. If the tops are browning too quickly, cover them with a piece of aluminum foil.
Remove the bread from the pans and let cool completely on a wire rack.