This is how my mom taught me to make bread, and thankfully she had 2 bread buckets, so when I moved out she gave me one. I've been wanting to post about some bread that I made a few weeks ago, but I waited because I wanted to be able to show pictures of my process, as I know it's a little different from what most people use now.
The first thing I do, of course, is proof the yeast with sugar and warm water and let it sit for a few minutes while I make sure I have everything else ready to go.
When the yeast starts bubbling and foaming a bit, you know that it's active, if the top of the mixture stays flat, it's time to toss that one and try again. Next I add the butter, milk, and honey followed by the egg yolks, salt, and first of the flour, and this is when I dump it into the bread bucket to mix it.
I mix with the crank as I add the flour until the dough stops sticking to the sides of the bucket, and appears to be forming a nice ball around the dough hook. Here's what the whole setup looks like:
Once the dough is mixed, it comes out onto a floured mat, I knead it a bit and then put it in a buttered bowl to let it rise. It usually takes about an hour for it to rise to double it's size, once there, I separate it into 2 even balls, knead it just a bit and form into loaves. They go in buttered bread pans and rise for another hour.
Growing up, when we made bread it always sat next to the wood stove to rise, because it was a nice warm place. The first time I made bread in our house I had no idea where to put the bread, as we keep our house around 63 degrees, and that's not nearly warm enough for the bread. I have recently discovered that the best place to keep it here is in the dryer after letting it run for a few minutes to heat it up.I just wonder how Philip must have reacted when I sent him a message in the middle of the day to tell him that the bread was rising in the dryer.
Now, after all that work, all you need to do is pop the loaves into the oven and let them fill your house with the wonderful smell of freshly baking bread (in my opinion one of the best smells ever).
Well, if you made it through all that, I'll talk a bit about this particular kind of bread. I had always made the recipe that my mom taugh me, and I believe that particular recipe came from my grandmother, but I found this honey white bread recipe in Ina Garten's "Barefoot Contessa at Home" and decided I'd give it a shot. It's good, we've really enjoyed it as a change from the other recipe because it's light and fluffy where the other recipe is a bit more dense. Each recipe has its place and I will probably switch between them from now on while maybe exploring some new recipes every now and then.
Now we're finally on to the recipe:
Honey White Bread
(makes 2 loaves)
½ cup warm water (110 degrees)
2 packages dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 ½ cups warm whole milk (110 degrees) I used skim, and it was just fine
6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 ½ tablespoons honey
2 extra-large egg yolks
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 egg white, lightly beaten
Place the water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. If the bowl is cold, be sure the water temperature doesn’t drop below 110 degrees. I measure temperature by warming the water in the tap and when it feels warm on my wrist it's about the right temperature. Add the yeast and sugar; stir and allow them to dissolve for 5 minutes.
Add the milk, butter, and honey. Mix on medium speed until blended. Add the egg yolks, 3 cups of the flour, and the salt. This is where I moved the mix to the bread bucket. Mix on low speed for about 5 minutes. With the mixer still on low speed, add 2 more cups of flour. Raise the speed to medium and slowly add just enough of the remaining flour so the dough doesn’t stick to the bowl. Add the flour slowly; you can always add more but you can’t take it out. Knead on medium speed for about 8 minutes, adding flour as necessary.
Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for a minute, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Grease a bowl with butter, put the dough in the bowl, then turn it over so the top is lightly buttered. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and allow it to rise for 1 hour, until doubled in volume.
Grease two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans with butter. Divide the dough in half, roll each half into a loaf shape and place each in a prepared pan. Cover again with the damp towel, and allow to rise again for an hour, until doubled in volume.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. When the dough is ready, brush the tops with the egg white and bake the breads for 40 to 45 minutes, until they sound hollow when tapped. Turn them out of the pans and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.