This will be your finished product. Please pardon my pans, they have been well-loved.
* 1 cup water
* 2 1/2 cups bread flour
* 1 tablespoon white sugar
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
* 1 egg yolk
* 1 tablespoon water
Combine the water, sugar, salt, and yeast (you can use rapid rise or whatever) into a small bowl to activate the yeast. After about 5-10 minutes, it should look foamy, like this:
Appetizing, isn't it!! Don't worry, it'll get better.
Add the yeast/water/etc. mixture to the bread flour. I use a wooden spoon to mix it until it gets to this consistency:
From there, I get down and dirty and use my (clean) hands to combine it. Yeah, it gets sticky and sticks to your fingers, but if you are patient, it'll come together and you can scrape most of it off your fingers until it looks like this:
Because I am too lazy to get ANOTHER bowl dirty, I just pick up the ball of dough, spray the bowl it was just in with butter-flavored cooking spray, and splat it right back in, and roll it around in the spray a bit, as such:
Grab a clean dishtowel and get it wet with warm water. Not sopping, but beyond damp. You want to be able to wring a bit out still, but not have it drippy. Cover your bowl o'dough with the damp cloth.
Stick it in the microwave for 30 seconds. At the end of those 30 seconds, let it sit in the microwave for 5 minutes. Then microwave again for 30 seconds. Let it sit in the microwave for 15 minutes. Microwave it for 30 seconds. Let it sit for 15 minutes. By the end of this fun part, it should look like this:
Nice and poofy!
Turn your oven on to the lowest it can go (mine was 170 degrees F).
Turn it out onto a clean floured surface and roll out with a floured rolling pin until it is a 12 x 16 rectangle. Cut it in half (I use a pizza cutter) like so:
Roll 'em up.
Using your handy dandy kitchen scissors (thank you, Alton Brown, for this tip), make cuts in the top of the loaves:
Place the loaves on a greased cookie sheet, and cover with the damp towel that you used earlier. Stick it in your oven (oh my!), but leave the door partially open just so you don't set the place on fire. Or just put the loaves in a warm place, but hey, I'm impatient. Mine stayed in the warm oven for 20 minutes. After that, they looked like this:
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
Separate one egg. Throw out the egg white. Combine the yolk with a tablespoon of water and brush over the loaves. I would show you a picture, but it just makes the the dough look wet and icky.
Bake at 375 F for 20 minutes, and you'll have this:
These loaves are awesome. The outside is lightly crusty, the inside is light and chewy and fluffy. They are delicious warm with some butter, but even better? Make a nice sub/hoagie/grinder/whatever-you-call it. My husband is looking forward to his lunch tomorrow, LET ME TELL YOU INTERNET.
(The original recipe is from here, but I've adjusted the rising times and whatnot to better serve my non-bread-machine-having needs.)