Bread has always been my downfall. Even chocolate, although a powerful temptation, is no match for bread. I can be satisfied with a couple of squares of good chocolate, but one slice of warm crusty bread? No way. I need at least two. With butter. Or salted olive oil.
Homemade bread is intimidating. Something about letting it rise three times eliminates probably 95% of the would-be chef pool. Who has time to wait that long? Apparently I did. A couple of weeks ago, my child was home for 6 days with the flu (supposedly the dreaded H1N1) and strep, so what else is there to do but bake? I cannot tell you how good our house smelled that week. And clean. We scrubbed every surface, and it must have worked because only one went down (so far).
This recipe is not for a French baguette, that crunchy, chewy, crusty loaf that has a yeast flavor with the airy interior texture. This is a heavy, solid, evenly textured bread. It has a wonderful substantial crust and retains that delectable yeast flavor. I made two loaves and several rolls from this one recipe. We used the rolls for sandwiches over the next few days and devoured the loaves almost immediately. Everything tastes better on a fresh loaf of bread. Especially butter. Salted butter.