1 tablespoon salt
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
2 ½ cups warm water (110°F/45°C) (rookie note: the temperature of the water is actually important, so don’t ignore this detail. If you don’t have a thermometer, the water should be hot, but not so hot that it’s uncomfortable to the touch)
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons white sugar6 ½ cups bread flour
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Stir in butter, salt and two cups of the flour. Stir in the remaining flour, ½ cup at a time, beating well after each addition. (Rookie note: you might want to keep track of each half cup on a scrap of paper as you add it, otherwise distractions can cause you to lose count) When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth (don’t use damp papertowel like I did the first time, disaster) and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and form into loaves. Place the loaves into two lightly greased 9×5 inch loaf pans. Cover the loaves with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).
Bake at 375°F (190°C) for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. (VERY important note: it is NOT a mistake that it says to preheat the oven to 425 but bake at 375. Do what it says!)
The end result should be two delicious loaves of homemade bread, and a very nice natural air freshener (nothing smells better than homemade bread wafting through the house!)