If I have a favorite "thing" to make, it would be bread.  I love this recipe.  The first couple of kneads usually extract a "oooh, this is nice dough" reaction.  I will confess to actually following the recipe only once.  Normally I try to add some fiber by changing up the first two cups of flour to something other than white.  I've used oat flour and white whole grain flour.  I also bought amarenth flour to see how that goes.  Since it is mixed one day and then kneaded the next, this also counts as a "little mess" type recipe. 
Here goes.
5 cups flour, divided
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast (I use one package)
2 cups water, room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil or melted unsalted butter

In large bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, sugar, salt, and  yeast.  With wooden spoon, stir in liquid and oil until thoroughly mixed.  Stir for 2 minutes.  Then stir in 2 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup at a time.  Finished dough will be shaggy and sticky. 
Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour at room temperature then refrigerate for 24 hours.
Remove dough from refrigerator and let dough rest for 1 hour to warm up a bit.  Scrape out dough onto lightly floured surface using remaining 1/2 cup of flour.  Knead for about 5 or 6 minutes, adding more flour as needed to keep dough from sticking.  Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rest a few minutes while you clean out and oil bowl for second rise.
Flatten out dough and continue kneading for another 5 or 6 minutes or until dough is soft and smooth.  Place dough in oiled bowl, turning dough to oil surface and pressing flat.  Cover with plastic wrap and set in warm place.  Let rise until doubled, approximately 1 hour.  If the house is cool, heat the oven to 200 degrees, allowing it to heat for 2 minutes, turning off oven and then put dough into oven to rise.
Lightly oil 2 8 1/2x4 1/2x2 1/2 loaf pans.  Turn risen dough onto lightly floured surface, flattening gently to break up any large bubbles.  Divide dough into 2 equal parts and form into loaves.  Pinch seam and place seam side down in prepared pans.  Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise for 1 1/2 hours unti it rises just above the top of the pans.  I place the bread loaves and a cup of HOT water underneath a baking sheet held up by coffee cans.  And then cover all with a tea towel to create a warm draftless place to rise.
During last 20 minutes of the rise, heat oven to 450.  Put loaves in oven and reduce heat to 375.  Bake for about 45 minutes or until loaves are golden brown.  Remove immediately from pans and let cool on wire rack.  Wrap well as soon as bread has cooled thouroughly.
Yield 2 loaves.

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    No Guarantees
    I used to be a good cook.  I bravely tried at least 2 new recipes each week.  And it was good.  And then somewhere along the line, cooking became something I didn't do.  In fact, my husband would introduce me, "This is my wife.  She USED TO cook."  Now it's been long enough he doesn't remember the 'old' days. 
    The recipes I'm including here are family recipes, tried and true, or don't make a mess in the kitchen.  In my mind that is truly a measure of a good recipe.  Enjoy!


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