I didn't think it was possible to improve on Mom's bread recipe, but I was experimenting last night and discovered a variation that is even better than the original. So here you have it, the improved on perfection bread recipe:
2 c hot water (not too hot, though)
1 rounded tbsp (or 1 1/2 pkts) yeast
1/4-1/2 c sugar (I was making butterscotch rolls, so I used 1/2 c)
1/3 c oil (vs the usual 1/4 c)
1 1/2 tsp salt
Mix these and let it get foamy to make sure the yeast is alive.
Add 6 1/3 c flour (or so--I always need more flour at this altitude, so go slowly and add as much as you usually do plus a little to counter for the extra liquid in the recipe).
Mix it just a little and then add
Mix it until it's soft and clinging to the dough hook, but not necessarily smooth. (I tried once "letting the gluten develop" like all the ward members say you need to, and it ruined the bread. Don't do this.). Take it out. Knead it a few times in your hands (not on a breadboard). It's okay if it's a little sticky at this point. You want it soft and tender. Put it in an oiled bowl and microwave 10 seconds. Flip the dough over and microwave another 10 seconds. Take it out and cover with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place to raise. (While I'm microwaving it, I turn the oven on to warm. When it's preheated, I put the dough in, turn the light on to keep it warmer, and turn the oven off. This is for two reasons: it's warm, and the kids don't get at it to get snitches that mess up the raising.). Raise it (or let it rise--which is it?) two or three times for 30 minutes each. Then take it out, form it into three regular loaves (or butterscotch rolls and 1 loaf for me last night), put it into loaf pans, and let it rise again for 30 minutes. In the last 10 minutes of rise time, turn on the oven to 350 (take the loaves out while it preheats to bake) so it's ready to go at the end of the rise time. Bake the loaves at 350 for 30 minutes. When they come out of the oven, dump them out of the pans right away. If you're making wheat bread, make all the 30s into 35s, and use just a little more yeast. Or use half-wheat, half-white (or confectioners, as I call it because anything it makes is really nutritionally a confection) flour.
What was the difference, you ask? The texture of the bread was different--softer, more tender. Also, you've added the nutritional value of eggs, which can't hurt. I suppose you could use milk, instead of water, and add that nutrition (and richness), too. And the extra oil? I don't know what it did, if anything. It was an accident that it got in there.