Sunday, June 6, 2010

Milk Bread

I made yummy bread the other day and while bread may seem imposing, it's really very easy with the mixer and a little time.  I will say, the taste and smell of fresh baked bread is entirely worth the time and effort.  I made two loaves, one plain and one with a cinnamon swirl.  The recipe for both is below.

Milk Bread  (adapted from Joy of Cooking

3 tablespoons warm water
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 cup warm milk
5 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
3 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose or bread flour, divided

Combine the warm water and yeast in a large bowl or the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer and let stand until the yeast is dissolved, about 5 minutes.
Add the warm milk, melted butter, sugar, egg and salt.  (I melted the butter in a small saucepan, added the milk to warm, then tempered the egg with the warm milk to avoid having scrambled eggs in the bread.  I added the egg/butter/milk mixture to the bowl of the mixer, then added the sugar and salt.)
Mix by hand or on low speed for 1 minute.  Gradually stir in 2 cups of flour.  
Gradually add 1 1/2 to 2 more cups of flour until dough is moist but not sticky.  Knead for about 10 minutes by hand or with the dough hook on low to medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn it once to coat with oil.  Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap or a clean cloth and let rise in a warm place (75 to 85 degrees F) until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.  Roll the dough into an 8 x 18-inch rectangle, then roll tightly into a loaf.  (If you want to make the cinnamon swirl bread, brush the dough rectangle with 1 1/2 teaspoons melted butter, then sprinkle with a mixture of 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon, reserving 2 tablespoons of the mixture.  Then continue to roll tightly into a loaf.)
Brush the surface of the dough with oil, cover loosely with greased plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 to  1 1/2 hours.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Brush the top of the loaf with melted butter or milk.  (For cinnamon bread, sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of cinnamon-sugar mixture on top).
Bake until the crust is deep golden brown and the bottom of the loaf sound hollow when tapped, 35 to 45 minutes.  Remove the loaf from the pan to a rack to let cool completely.

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