hola, amigos!
here is my favorite yeast bread recipe. enjoy!

“…You better come on in my kitchen,
it’s goin’ to be rainin’ outdoors…�?
–Robert Johnson, from “Come On In My Kitchen�?
One late summer afternoon when I was five, our Mother called my sister Rae and I in; out of an all-too-infrequent cooling afternoon rain shower. Since all the other neighborhood Mother’s had done the same with their kids, we were expecting the call. We were greeted at the back door by the scent of freshly baked bread just removed from the oven, loaves sitting halfway out of their pans on top of the nearly new electric range…
There is no bread like homemade bread, fresh from the oven. Warm, steam still rising from the freshly cut loaf, butter melting into every yeasty pore… the cooling scent of rain, wafting through the kitchen screen door and mingling with the rich and earthy bread and butter.
The rain having stopped as suddenly as it had started, our Mother went out into the garden to the tomato patch and returned with two huge, ripe, red Beefsteak tomatoes. They were wet from the rain and still warm to the touch from the sun shining on them before the rain. We sliced them and placed a layer of the still warm red fruit over the tops of our already buttered slices of bread, followed by a sprinkle of salt and a dash of pepper.
We ate our bread and butter and tomato sandwiches slowly; talking quietly, enjoying every last crumb, watching the sun return from behind the dark and rain-filled thunderheads. I thought it was the best sandwich I’d ever had in my life. I still do…

1 package active dry yeast
3 cups warm water
1-2 Tablespoons sugar
2 cups flour

In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast, water and sugar. Allow these ingredients to rest undisturbed for several minutes, then stir vigorously until the yeast has completely dissolved. Add the flour, using either a whisk or a mixing spoon to create a smooth, somewhat pasty “sponge.�? Cover the mixing bowl with a towel or food wrap and set the bowl in a warm spot to rise. The sponge will be ready to use when it has (approximately) doubled in size—about 40 minutes, depending on temperature.

2 Tablespoons melted butter or any cooking oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
3-5 cups flour, depending on the dough

After the sponge has doubled in size, remove the towel or food wrap and add the butter or oil, beaten egg and salt individually; stirring well after each addition. Begin adding the flour, one cup at a time. When the dough becomes too thick and stiff to stir in any more flour, turn it out onto a floured surface. Dust the dough with a little more flour and allow it to rest undisturbed for 5-10 minutes. Begin kneading and turning the dough, incorporating more flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to your working surface (and your hands). Bread dough is very forgiving, so just start working with it. When the surface of the dough becomes smooth and slightly shiny and the entire dough no longer sticks to a dry working surface it’s ready for proofing. Place the round ball of dough into a large, well-oiled bowl and cover with a towel or food wrap. Place the bowl in a warm spot. When the dough has doubled in size (about 40-60 minutes), remove the towel or food wrap and lightly punch the dough down. Reshape it into a ball and replace the dough into the bowl. Recover the bowl and allow the dough to double in size again. Remove the dough from the bowl, punch down again and cut into two or three pieces. Shape the pieces into loaves, place them into oiled bread pans, brush the tops with softened (or melted) butter and allow them to rise in a warm place until about doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Bake for approximately 55 minutes, until the crust is a rich brown color and the bottom of the loaf, when thumped soundly, has a hollow drum-like sound!

While the bread is baking, go out to the garden—or your local farmers’ market—and get some fresh, red, ripe tomatoes…

Yield: 2-3 loaves, depending on size

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