Step 1: Mix in the yeast
After you've measured out your flour, it's time to mix it with yeast. Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon to evenly distribute the yeast into the flour. Look for the expiration date on the yeast package to make sure the yeast is fresh (expired yeast could prevent bread from rising).
Step 2: Add liquid
Check the temperature of the liquid with an instant-read thermometer. If it is too hot, the yeast will die and your bread won't rise. If it is too cold, the yeast won't activate and your bread won't rise.
Step 3: Beat with a mixer
Add warm water and melted butter to the flour mixture all at once. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed (you can do this by hand as well). Scrape the side of the bowl to make sure all of the flour and yeast are moistened. Step 4: Stir in remaining flour
Use a wooden spoon to stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can. Start with the minimum amount of flour given in a recipe, and add only as much as you need during the mixing and kneading steps. Too much flour creates a dense, dry loaf. Tip: Stir the dough until it looks ropey and pulls away from the side of the bowl. Step 5: Knead dough
Fold the dough over and push down with the heel of your hand. Turn, fold dough over, and push down again. Repeat this process over and over. The dough is ready when it is smooth and elastic. This means it is smooth and soft and holds together nicely in a ball. Tip: Moderately soft dough, used for sweet breads, requires 3 to 5 minutes of kneading and will still be slightly sticky. Moderately stiff dough, used for most non-sweet breads, requires 6 to 8 minutes of kneading and is slightly firm to the touch. You can also knead bread in the food processor with the plastic blade or in a stand mixer with a dough hook. These methods take less time, so check with instruction manual for the appliance.
Step 6: Form dough into a ball
Shape the dough into a ball with your hands and place it in a greased...
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