- 2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
- 1 tablespoon active-dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt
- 7 cups bread flour, plus more as necessary
- 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for bowls, pans, and brushing
- Nonstick cooking spray
- Place 1/2 cup warm water in a small bowl or liquid measuring cups yeast and sugar over water and whisk to combine. Let stand until creamy, about 5 minutes.
- Place salt, remaining two cups warm water, and about 3 1/2 cups flour in the bowl of an electric mixer. Attach dough hook to mixer; turn mixer on and off a few times just to incorporate flour. Add 1 cup flour. With mixer on low, slowly add yeast mixture and remaining 2 1/2 cups flour. Increase speed to medium and mix until dough comes together, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. If dough does not come together, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Continue kneading on medium speed for about 5 minutes Add butter and continue mixing dough, 4 to 5 minutes. Dough may come apart before coming back together.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a ball. Butter a large bowl and transfer dough to prepared bowl, turning dough to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and let stand at room temperature until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Butter two 4 1/2-by-8 1/2-inch loaf pans; set aside.
- Place dough, top-side down, on work surface to deflate; divide dough in half. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, use the palms of your hands and fingertips or a rolling pin to pat dough into a 7-inch square.
- Place dough on work surface so one of the short sides is facing you. Starting with the bottom edge, roll dough and pinch to seal seam. Place roll in pan, seam side down. Repeat process with remaining piece of dough.
- Spray two pieces of plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loaf pans with plastic wrap, sprayed side down. Let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, growing over tops of pans, and when pressed gently with your finger an impression remains, 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees on a conventional oven or 400 degrees on a convection oven with a rack set in the center of oven.
- Transfer pans to oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees (conventional) or 350 (convection) and continue baking until honey brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of each loaf reaches 205 degrees, about 45 minutes more.
- Transfer to wire racks. Let cool slightly; turn out loaves. Brush tops with butter and let cool. Do not cut until almost cool.
Cooled bread can be stored in a brown paper bag for up to 2 days. Once loaf is sliced it can be kept cut-side down on counter and covered with a clean kitchen towel.