Dissolve the sugar in the warm water and milk in a large bowl.
Whisk in the yeast.
Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the yeast mixture gets foamy.
Stir in 1 cup of the flour.
Whisk in the salt and oil.
With the mixer running add the remaining flour, one cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the bowl.
Knead by machine about 5 minutes.
If you are hand kneading mix in the flour until you have a sticky dough, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic - adding flour as needed.
Rising and shaping
Oil a large bowl and place the ball of dough in it.
Oil the top of the dough and then cover with a damp cloth.
Allow it to rise until it has doubled in bulk. This will take about an hour.
Punch the dough down.
Knead for three minutes or so and divide in half.
Let rest for five minutes.
Shape into loaves and then place in greased 9x5-inch loaf pans.
Brush the tops with the melted butter.
Let rise for 30 minutes, or until the dough has risen an inch or so above the pans.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, or until loaves sound hollow when tapped.
For a soft crust
For a soft crust butter the tops and place a clean tea towel over the baked loaves as soon as you take them out of the oven. Let them cool for about 5 minutes and then take them out of the pans to finish cooling, covering them back up with the tea towel.
Bread machine instructions
Add ingredients to your bread machine in the order the manufacturer recommends.
Select white bread cycle.
When the dough has risen once and second cycle of kneading begins, turn the machine off. Press "start" again to reset the machine.
The dough will rise a second time before it bakes.
This is such a basic loaf that there are a lot of different ways to use it. Here are some of my favorite variations.
Cinnamon swirl loaf
Add 2 cups raisins
Add 2 cups chocolate chips
Add 2 cups chopped nuts
Since this fluffy white bread freezes so well you can make several batches to have on hand when you need them. Give this Buttermilk Bread a try, too!Help with risingThere are definitely a lot of ways to get yeast doughs to rise - such as keeping it in the oven with the light on, etc. My favorite is to use a natural dough enhancer like one of these-
Ground ginger helps to activate the yeast and really get it going.
Potato water strengthens the structure of the dough allowing it to rise higher.