Yield: Makes 4 or 5 medium-sized loaves or 3 large.
Kate doesn't measure her bread flour precisely because, as she says, the mix varies with the weather and whether a soft or firm dough is wanted. However she does have two favorite flours -- King Arthur and Robin Hood.
2 packages (scant tablespoon each) active dry yeast, dissolved in a little warm water
1 quart milk
3/4 cup shortening (half butter, half Crisco)
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
8 to 10 cups flour
Butter, for topping
Dissolve yeast in warm (105 degrees F to 115 degrees F) water. Meanwhile, heat milk gently and dissolve the butter and Crisco in the warm milk. Let milk cool to lukewarm. Beat in eggs and sugar. Combine the yeast mixture with the milk mixture; add salt and enough flour to make a bread dough that is easy to handle. Knead well. Let dough rise in a large greased bowl or kettle in a warm place until doubled. Punch down and shape into loaves as desired. Let rise in greased pans until doubled and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when tapped. Grease the tops with butter while still hot. This makes the crusts soft and shiny. MAPLE STICKY BUNS:
Let dough rise once, then roll out a portion of dough into a large rectangle. Spread with butter and maple syrup and roll up. Cut into 1/2-inch slices and place slices flat in a large baking dish. Let rise, then pour on more maple syrup (1/2 to 2/3 cup) and bake at 350 degrees F until done (about 25 to 30 minutes). Serve hot.