I love baking bread. My husband and I moved around a lot when we were starting out. This meant that we were frequently having to sell our house. I would always get one of those loafs in a tube and put it in the oven before we showed the house because the smell was incredible. There is nothing more homey than the smell of bread baking. Needless to say, we never had a problem selling our house.
I finally put bread making on my to do list for a new year's resolution a few years ago. I bought my first bread maker on sale and looked for some good recipes. I didn't just want any recipes but some that others loved and preferably were family heirloom recipes. To this day, I google online for family recipes, and I really like to find those community cookbooks at thrift stores or flea markets, often hand written and photocopied. In those you will find recipes that families love and pass down to their children. I have one from a small town in Maine from the 1950's that has the best banana bread recipe I have ever tried. The following recipe for a sweet white bread was actually from a Dad (which made it unique to me anyway). I tried it and now have it memorized. Whenever I send it to work with my husband, it disappears quickly. If you want it a little more healthy, you can use half wheat flour.
Decadent Sweet Milk Bread
This makes a soft sweet loaf of bread. It can be totally made in a bread machine, however, I just used the machine to make the dough.
1 cup of water
½ cup of sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of butter
3 1/3 cups of bread flour
2 teaspoons of yeast
Put ingredients in bread machine and set for dough cycle. When complete, remove and separate into three sections. Roll each out like snakes and mesh ends together. Braid and press ends together. Place in baking dish and allow to rise for 25-30 minutes. (Here's a little trick: before braiding your bread, heat your oven to 175 degrees and then turn off. Put your braided bread in the warmed oven to rise.) Brush melted butter or egg white on top after rising. Bake at 340 for 30-45 minutes, until top is golden brown.
Note: If you want a better crust, heat some water in the microwave in an oven safe dish until near boiling. Then put in the oven while your bread bakes.
One can of the sweetened condensed milk will make two loaves plus. The rest would be good in coffee. I made two loaves and froze one. The milk is thick stuff and hardly pours after being in the refrigerator.
Other great bread machine recipes:
Amish White Bread
White Bread (you can see the before oven and after oven pictures)