- Heat the butter until it is almost melted. (If your mix calls for butter, it will be listed on the back label).
- Grease the inside of the pans, including the rims.
- Carefully measure the specified amount of lukewarm (105 degrees) water. Use a thermometer if you have one. The water should be slightly warmer than body temperature when you immerse your finger in it.
- Combine approximately 1/3 of the bread mix, the water, and the yeast by beating with a dough hook for 30 seconds or until combined. Add the remainder of the mix and softened butter (if recipe calls for it) and continue mixing for at least five minutes at medium speed. The dough should be soft (but not too sticky to handle), smooth, and elastic. The mix is precisely designed for this amount of water. Water absorption may vary depending on environmental conditions. If you feel that the dough is too moist, add one or two tablespoons of flour. If you have a fruit or nut packet, add it at this time.
- Place the dough in a large greased bowl and turn once to oil all sides. Let rise until doubled, about one hour, depending on temperature.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly greased work area. Deflate the dough by gently folding and pressing most of the air from the dough.
- Using your hands, form a cylinder by pulling the dough around the center and tucking the seams together on the bottom, thus gently stretching the surface of the dough. Pinch the seams together to keep them from opening as the loaf expands. Place seam side down in the prepared pan. Gently work the dough toward the corners of the pan to create a uniform loaf.
- Cover lightly with greased plastic wrap and set aside to rise until doubled, about one hour. Rise times will vary with conditions, especially temperature—yeast is very sensitive to temperature. In a 9 x 5-inch pan, the bread should rise to about three inches (slightly higher than the rim on most pans).
- While the bread is still rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- When the bread has raised, place the loaf on the center rack of the oven. Bake for 35 minutes or until the bread is done and well-browned. If you have a probe-type thermometer, the internal temperature should reach 190 degrees. If the bread is browning too rapidly, loosely cover the loaf for the last five minutes with aluminum foil. Once baked, immediately remove the loaf from the pan and cool it on a wire rack. The bread should cool completely before slicing.
Storing the mix: Store the mix in a cool, dry place. (Optimal storage temperature is 40 degrees.) Use often and rotate regularly.
Directions for Hand Mixing
You can bake great bread without a mixer. In fact, some of the best bakers prefer the intimacy of working the dough by hand.
Place the dough mix and yeast in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add two-thirds of the water and melted butter (if the recipe calls for it) to the bowl and mix with a spatula. When the dough becomes too heavy to continue mixing with a spatula, grease your hands with shortening along with a 15-inch square area on a clean counter. Scrape the partially mixed dough onto the counter. Knead the dough by pressing the heel of your hand into the dough, turning the dough, and then pressing again until the mix is absorbed into the dough. Add more of the water as necessary until the dough is as moist as you can handle. Continue kneading for eight to ten minutes adding more shortening to your hands and counter as needed. If the dough becomes too sticky to work, even with greased hands, add flour (not included) one tablespoon at time, kneading between additions. Do not add more than is necessary—softer dough will rise more readily and have a better structure. When the dough is smooth and elastic, it is ready to rise. Follow the remaining directions.