This is the recipe my mom used over and over when I was growing up. I learned how to make yeast bread using this recipe when I was eight years old (no, I had no idea that yeast bread was supposed to be "hard", I just made it!). You can sub in some whole wheat to make it healthier, but I wouldn't use all whole wheat, you'll have hocky pucks instead of bread. My mom didn't use the wheat germ or vital wheat gluten, but I add it for the extra nutrition. You can leave them out if you wish. This recipe will make 2 loaves of bread or 2 dozen rolls. I usually make rolls and bake in 2 8-inch pans. We eat one pan (12 rolls) fresh, and freeze the other pan. Don't be afraid of the preparation time, it includes the rising time, which is time you can be doing other things.
- Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water in large bowl. This usually takes about 5 minutes. If you don't see any bubbles/foaming, your yeast is dead, start over.
- Add the milk, Crisco, salt, wheat germ, vital wheat gluten, and about 4 cups flour. I usually heat the milk and Crisco in the microwave so the Crisco melts, and the milk gets warm all in one step.
- Continue adding flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough forms a ball, and starts leaving the sides of the bowl.
- Knead the bread, adding flour as needed until the dough is smooth and elastic. I usually knead about 3-5 minutes.
- Let bread rise in a covered bowl in a warm place until double in size (about 30-60 minutes).
- Punch down and form into loaves or rolls and place in a greased and floured pan.
- Let rise about 30 minutes more. Bake at 425 degrees 25-30 minutes, or till the bottom of the bread sounds hollow when tapped.
- Remove from pans and place on racks to cool.
- Butter tops while still warm, if desired. Cool completely before wrapping.