1packet (1/4 oz)active dry yeast,preferably Platinum Superior Baking Yeast
4 - 4 ¼cups (about 20 oz)bread flour (spooned and leveled),plus 1/4 cup for rolling
1 ½tspcoarse Kosher salt(if using table salt, use half the amount)
Activate the yeast.
In a saucepan, combine the milk, water, sugar and 1 tablespoon of butter. Heat the mixture over medium heat to between 110-115 degrees Fahrenheit.If the temperature is hotter or colder, the yeast won't be properly activated.
Remove the saucepan from the heat. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk mixture and stir it in. Let it stand for about 5 minutes, until it becomes foamy and bubbly.
Mix and knead the dough.
Meanwhile, combine 3 cups of the flour with the salt in the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the milk/yeast mixture and stir together with a wooden spoon to form a soft, sticky dough.
Attach the bowl to your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Knead the dough for 10-15 minutes, gradually adding in the remaining 1 - 1 1/4 cups flour. As the dough kneads and absorbs the flour, it will form sort of a "torpedo" of dough around the dough hook, and the dough will pull away from the sides of the bowl. The dough should be soft, supple and spring back when gently touched.Don't add more flour than stated in the recipe, or your bread will end up too dense.
Let the dough rise.
Lightly grease a large bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, being careful not to let the dough over-proof and get too big. It should take about 30-45 minutes.If your oven has a "bread proof" setting, use this. Otherwise, preheat the oven on to the lowest setting, then turn it off before you set the dough inside to proof.
Meanwhile, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan, and keep it on the back of the stove.
Prepare a bread loaf pan by brushing the bottom and sides lightly with some of the melted butter, then dusting with flour.
Shape and rest the dough.
When the dough has doubled in size, lightly flour a clean work surface. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick, with a width that's equivalent to the length of your loaf pan. Roll up the dough into a log, and place it in the prepared loaf pan, with the seam of the dough facing down against the bottom of the pan, and the ends tucked down.
Brush the top of the dough with some of the melted butter, then set the pan in a warm place to rest for about 20 minutes while the oven preheats. The dough should be just starting to puff up above the top of the pan.
Bake the bread.
While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 350 F, and position a rack in the center of the oven. Bake the bread for about 40-45 minutes, until the top is a deep golden brown, and an instant read digital thermometer inserted into the center reaches 195 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remove the bread from the pan (it should lift right out if you prepped the pan with butter and flour), and set on a wire cooling rack. Brush the remainder of the melted butter over the top and sides of the bread.
Cool for about 1-2 hours before slicing with a sharp serrated knife.
Store the bread in an airtight container or bag at room temperature for up to 3 days, or freeze the bread for up to 3-6 months.