Nothing makes a house smell as good as homemade bread baking. It also makes a great gift when someone moves in next door or you want to do something special for someone. It doesn't cost much to bake bread and yet anyone you give it to will be impressed. I have a simple recipe that I use all the time. The great thing about this dough is that you can make a loaf of bread with it, or individual rolls, cinnamon rolls or even a slightly sweet pizza crust. It all depends on how you shape it.
You can mix this dough in a bowl by hand (which I did for many years) or you can prepare it in a bread machine, which I do now. I just make it in the machine at the "dough" setting, then remove it and do the rest by hand. I don't like my bread to be in a square like the machine makes it. I do find that the machine dough is smoother than anything I ever accomplished by hand, but it certainly isn't necessary for it to taste great.
1 cup warm water
1 T. olive oil
1 egg beaten with a fork
1 tsp. salt
6 1/2 Tablespoons honey
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. yeast (1 packet as shown) don't use fast rising
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees
Place the ingredients in the bowl (or bread machine bowl) as listed, making a "well" in the flour for the yeast.
Either put the bread machine bowl into the bread machine and turn it on at the dough setting or mix the dough gently with a spatula, until well blended. Place on floured surface and knead the bread until smooth. The dough should look something like the picture below after you are done kneading it.
If you are using the machine, just let it run through the dough process and remove it at the end. Mine take 1 1/2 hours. If you are doing it by hand, once the dough is smooth, place it in a large bowl that has been coated with olive oil, flip it once so that all sides get a light coating of the oil. Cover with a clean dish towel and set it aside for 1 hour in the warmest part of your kitchen. It should rise to about double in size. Remove the dough from the bread machine or from the oiled bowl after it rises and place on floured surface.
This is when you will shape the bread however you want it. Last night, I just made loaves. I split the dough into 2 equal pieces and shaped out long loaves of bread. Place them on a greased and floured baking sheet, cover with a clean towel and let them rise again for about 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for around 20 minutes, start checking the bread as soon as you can smell it. It should be golden brown.
For rolls, I pinch the large ball of dough into two pieces, then pinch those two pieces in half and then all four pieces in half. This will make 8 large rolls that can serve as buns. Cut them in half again for small dinner rolls. Place on greased and floured baking sheet, cover with a clean towel and let rise about 30 mintues. Bake them at 350 degrees for about 10-15 minutes depending on the size...watch closely.
For cinnamon rolls, roll the dough out into a large rectangle (about 12 x 8). Melt a stick of butter and pour it over the rectangle. Make a mixture of cinnamon and sugar (I don't measure, but you want the sugar mixture to cover the rectangle. Start with a cup of sugar and 2 tsp. of cinnamon, make more if you like them to be very gooey) sprinkle the sugar mixture over the top of the butter, add nuts if you like and roll them up jelly roll style so that you have a 12 inch roll when you are done. Slice them into I inch slices (you should get 12 rolls) and place cut side down in a greased 9x13 pan. Cover with a clean towel and let rise 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown on the top. Frost with any buttercream frosting if you choose. Below is the dough after I shaped it into a loaf, before the 30 minute rising period.