This is the best bread recipe ever. I have used it dozens of times, and the best thing about it is that it is so versatile. After the first rise, you can roll the dough out flat and sprinkle it with various things ( I've done cinnamon and raisins, pesto, and toasted pumpkin seeds to name a few), roll it up and let it rise a while longer in the loaf pan, and then bake it as it says, and you have a whole new bread! Woo hoo! Even plain, though, it's fab. The recipe first appeared in a 1993 issue of Sunset (best magazine ever!)
1 package active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm (110|degrees~) water
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon melted and cooled butter or margarine
2 to 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Choose mixing and kneading method. Sprinkle yeast over water and sugar; let stand until yeast is softened, about 5 minutes. Add salt, butter, and flour ; knead. Let dough rise 45 minutes to 1 hour; mix or knead on a lightly floured board to expel air bubbles and form a smooth ball.
Pat ball to flatten slightly. Roll into an 8-inch-wide round. Dust top lightly with flour; fold about the round onto other side, leaving about 1 inch of bottom rim exposed at center of curve.
With a floured knife, make 2 equidistant cuts about 2/3 of the way across loaf from curved side and down through dough.
Lift loaf into an oiled 9-inch pie pan; spread cuts apart so ends of loaf are flush with pan rim. Lightly cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until puffy, 20 to 30 minutes.
Remove wrap. Bake in a 375|degrees~ oven until bread is deep golden brown, about 50 minutes. Serve hot or cool; to cool, transfer from pan to a rack. Makes 1 loaf, about 14 ounces.