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Handmade Country White Bread*

Makes 2 loaves

Starter:
1 cup (8.375 oz) warm water (95 - 105 F)
2 tsp (.25 oz) fresh yeast (or 1 tsp active dry yeast)
1 cup (4.875 oz) all-purpose flour

Dough:
3/4 cup (5.75 oz) warm water (95 - 105 F)
3 Tbsp (2 oz) honey
4 tsp (.5 oz) fresh yeast (or 2 tsp active dry yeast)
1/4 cup + 1 tsp (2 oz) vegetable shortening
4 3/4 cups (22 oz) all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp (.5 oz) salt

To create the starter, combine the water and yeast in a medium mixing bowl. Stir to dissolve the yeast fully. Add the flour to the bowl and stir until the ingredients are fully incorporated. Cover with a cloth and ferment the starter at room temperature for 30 minutes.

For the dough, combine the water, honey and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir to dissolve the yeast fully. Add the shortening, flour, salt, and fermented starter. Mix on low speed until the dough is fully developed. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl.

Divide the dough into 2 pieces weighing about 22 oz each. Set aside any remaining dough and freeze for future use. Roll each piece of dough into a smooth ball. Place the dough on the counter or in a proofing basket and cover with a warm, damp cloth to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Form the dough into loaves, cover with a warm, damp cloth, and proof at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Score the loaves with a sharp knife, spray with water, and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the crusts are a deep golden brown and the middle of the loaves is 190-200 F.

Remove the bread from the oven and place on a cooling rack for 30 minutes. if the bread was baked in loaf pans, remove the bread from the pans before cooling.

Panera Bread Cookbook