If you've never made bread before, start with something simple - like this.
4 to 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 pkgs quick-rise instant yeast, (4 1/2 tsp)
2 tsp salt
2 cups milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup honey
2 tbsp vegetable oil
In a very large bowl, stir together 4 cups (1Ll) of the unbleached white flour, all of the whole wheat flour, yeast and salt. In a saucepan, combine the milk, water, honey and vegetable oil and heat until it is just hot to the touch - 120-130°F (50-55°C). Pour the liquids into the flour mixture, and beat with a wooden spoon, adding remaining flour a ½ cup (125 ml) at a time, until it becomes too hard to stir.
Knead for about 10 minutes - until it no longer sticks to your hands or the counter or the telephone receiver when it inevitably rings. Refer to "Kneading the Dough" if necessary. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, turning it over to grease all sides, and place in a warm spot to rise. Let rise until doubled in size - about 30 minutes.
You'll definitely need a kid for this next step. Remove the unsuspecting bowl of dough from wherever it's been rising, and have your enthusiastic young assistant punch her fist into the mixture to deflate it. Knead the dough a couple of times, divide it into two equal pieces and shape your loaves in whatever weird and wonderful way you want. Place dough in well-greased pans or cookie sheets and let rise again, for about 30 minutes, until nearly double.
Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Bake the breads for 30 to 40 minutes, until they're golden brown on top and sound hollow when you tap on them. Remove from pans (or whatever) and let cool for at least a few minutes before devouring. Did you do that? Wow.
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