Mise en place. In mixer bowl, dissolve yeast & sugar in water. Let sit 1-2 minutes (optional). Additional notes: I let sit because I’m usually finishing prepping. And I like knowing the yeast is good!
Add butter and shortening. Add 4 cups of flour. Using paddle (not hook), mix on speed 2 for 1 minutes.
Switch to dough hook. Continue on speed 2, adding remaining flour 1/2 C. at a time until dough clings to hook and cleans sides of bowl. Always error on side of too little flour! Note: Your dough should still be slightly “sticky” when you take it out. Do not over-flour. You can always add more flour later in the process.
Knead on speed 2 approx. 2 more minutes. Note: If dough starts to “stick” too much to the bottom, add flour a tablespoon at a time or so. After you’ve made bread a couple of times, the consistency will be automatic.
Lightly grease a large bowl. Remove dough from mixer, knead once or twice. Note: Final few kneads. Process: Start with a rough ball. “Press” down with the ball of your head, pushing forward and stretching the dough a little. Rotate 90 degrees. Fold in half. Press down again. Rotate 90 degrees. Fold in half. Press down again. Repeat.
Form into rough round/ball. Place dough in bowl and turn over to coat with grease. Cover with damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled, approx. 1 hour. (I heat oven for about a minute to warm up and use oven).
Punch down dough. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead a few times. Tuck the dough into a “round” to give it a smooth, tight top. Let stand 10 minutes. Note: This step is actually important. I didn’t believe it myself until I tried. The 10 minutes resting is needed.
Shape into two loaves (do NOT roll out and wrap…just shape it). Place each loaf in a lightly greased bread pan. (I prefer stoneware pan, but a regular metal one works.) Cover with damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled, approx. 30 minutes. For sandwich bread, I let it rise a little less; for light, fluffy bread, I let it a rise a little more.
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Place small pan to the side in the oven.
Turn down oven to 375 degrees. Pour approx. 2 cups water into preheated pan (for steam). Bake bread about 30 min. or until top is golden and loaf sounds hollow when tapped. (Cover with foil after 15 min. to prevent over browning, if needed).
Remove from oven. Let sit in pans 5 minutes, then turn out onto cooling rack.