To make the dough: In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir until the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. Or mix and knead the dough using an electric mixer or food processor, or in a bread machine set to the dough or manual cycle.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise until puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen. If you're using a bread machine, allow the machine to complete its cycle, then leave the dough in the machine until it's doubled in bulk, perhaps an additional 30 minutes or so.
Gently deflate the dough and transfer it to a lightly oiled work surface. Shape the dough into an 8" log.
Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan, cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 60 minutes, until it's domed about 1" above the edge of the pan. A finger pressed into the dough should leave a mark that rebounds slowly. Towards the end of the rise, preheat your oven to 350°F.
Bake the bread for 30 to 35 minutes, until it's light golden brown. Test it for doneness by removing it from the pan and thumping it on the bottom (it should sound hollow), or by measuring its interior temperature with a digital thermometer (it should register 190°F at the center of the loaf).
Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack before slicing. Store the bread in a plastic bag at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.
Tips from our Bakers
- Flour is like a sponge; it can absorb moisture from the atmosphere, so the amount of water you use can vary depending on climate and season. Use the lesser amount of water in the summer, or under humid conditions; the greater amount in winter, or when the climate is dry.
- For added whole-grain goodness, substitute King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour for up to half of the all-purpose flour in this recipe.
- Want to keep your bread fresher longer? Try the tangzhong technique, a Japanese method for increasing the softness and shelf life of yeast bread and rolls. Begin by measuring out the flour and water you’ll be using in the recipe, going with the greater amount of water (2/3 cup). Now take 3 tablespoons of the measured flour and 1/2 cup of the measured water; put them in a saucepan set over medium-high heat. Cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it thickens and forms a thick slurry; this will take about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer the cooked mixture to a bowl, let it cool to lukewarm, then combine it with the remaining flour, water, and other dough ingredients. Proceed with the recipe as directed. Well-wrapped and stored at room temperature, your finished bread should stay soft and fresh for up to a week.