Clear your kitchen counter, tie your hair back and assemble your ingredients. And don't forget to wash your hands! Here's what you need:
- A large bowl (two if you don't feel like washing and drying in between steps)
- 3 cups flour - important note here: bread flour is best. It has more protein than regular flour and results in more gluten strands being formed during the kneading process. This is a good thing. Really. Trust me.
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 T. instant yeast -another important note here: those little silvery packets of instant dry yeast aren't all that great. The best yeast is instant yeast. You can buy it at Sam's club. You have to refrigerate it after its open but it should last a long time.
- 2 cups warm water (about 105 degrees)
- 1 cup warm milk (same temp as the water)
In the mixing bowl, combine the flour, the sugar and the yeast with a whisk. Add the liquids to the flour and mix well. You should have no lumps in the mixture, but usually I have some. Its ok. Its not rocket science.
Now, you see that stuff around the upper top of the bowl? Get a spatula and scrape it off so it goes into the dough. Otherwise it dries and cracks and looks really gross. Then cover this bowl with plastic wrap or a clean towel. Set this bowl in a warm place to rise until spongy - about 30 to 60 minutes. I don't have a warm place in my house so I set the oven at 170 degrees and set the bowl on top of the stove. It works great.
This is what it looks like after an hour. Spongy goodness!
To the sponge mixture add:
1 tablespoon salt (yes I know. Tablespoon. )
2 tablespoons melted butter
3-4 cups bread flour