Some recipes are so good you keep returning to them no matter how many new and delectable gastronomic delights you discover.  This is one of those recipes.  It was the first bread recipe I tried in my 20’s, and it’s so easy and delicious, that (looking back) I’m sure it did wonders for my baking confidence.  The recipe was clipped off the back of a Gold Medal flour bag over 20 years ago.  
This is bread that closely resembles what would have come out of ovens in this country in the latter half of the 19th century.  

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There truly is nothing like home-made bread.  It only takes a few minutes to stir the ingredients together, 8 minutes of kneading (which is easy…just think of it as a little arm workout) and then it’s just a matter of letting it rise.  Go shopping.  Go to yoga.  As it bakes, the house fills with an indescribably yummy yeasty aroma. And it is so, so satisfying to pull the golden loaves out of the oven.  I’m telling you,  at that moment, there is nothing else I would rather eat.  Warm bread with real butter.  Slices toasted are irresistible.  Sandwiches made with this are elevated to another level, making even peanut butter something special.  French toast…oh yeah.  If you’ve never attempted making bread from scratch before, this is a great recipe to start with.  You’ll be hooked. 

Country Crust Bread

2 packages active dry yeast (check expiration date for freshness)
2 cups warm water (105 – 115 degrees)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 to 6 /12 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Stir in sugar, salt, eggs, oil and 3 cups of th flour.  Beat until smooth.  Mix in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.
Turn dough onto lightly floured board; knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.  Place in a greased bowl, turn greased side up.  (At this point, dough can be refrigerated 3 to 4 days.) Cover; let rise in a warm place until double, about 1 hour. (Dough is read if you poke it with your finger and impression remains.)

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Punch down dough; divide in half.  Roll each half into a rectangle, 18×9 inches.  Roll up, beginning at short side.  With side of hand, press each end to seal.  Fold ends under loaf.  Place seam side down in greased loaf pan, 9x5x3 inches.  Brush loaves with oil.  Let rise until double, about 1 hour.

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Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Place loaves on lower oven rack so that the tops of pans are in center of oven.  Pans should not touch each other or sides of oven.  Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until deep golden brown and loaves sound hollow when tapped.  Remove from pans.  Brush tops of loaves with if desired; cool on wire rack.  Makes 2 loaves.

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