Farmer's Bread

2 packages active dry yeast
2 cups warm water (about 110 degrees)
6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour -- approximately
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold butter or margarine -- cut into small pieces

In a 2-cup measure, dissolve yeast in water, stirring to mix. In a large bowl, combine 4 cups of the flour and the salt. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 table knives to make a crumbly mixture. Add yeast mixture; stir with a wooden spoon or a heavy-duty mixer until all flour is moistened. Work in 1 cup more of the flour to make a stiff dough (dough should be stiff enough to hold together when lifted).

Turn dough out onto a floured board and sprinkle lightly with a little flour. Adding flour as needed to prevent sticking, knead the dough by reaching over the ball of dough and grasping the edge farthest from you.

Then pull it toward you in a rolling motion and fold almost in half. With the heel of your hand, gently roll the ball away from you to lightly seal the fold. Rotate dough a quarter turn and continue this folding-rolling motion, making a quarter turn each time. Knead until the dough is smooth and satiny (about 10 minutes). Place in a butter-coated bowl and turn to coat top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled (1 to 1 1/2 hours).

Lightly butter a large baking sheet (it must be large or bread will rise off sheet). Punch down dough in bowl. Transfer dough to a lightly floured board and knead briefly. Shape into an oval loaf (about 7 x 9-inches); place on baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled (about 45 minutes).

With a floured sharp knife, cut a 1/2-inch deep cross in top of loaf; brush loaf lightly with water. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes.

Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake until loaf sounds hollow when tapped (about 15 more minutes). Let cool on a rack before slicing. Yield: "1 large Loaf"