Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Milk and Honey White Bread

It has been months since I bought a loaf of bread from the grocery store. Making homemade bread is very rewarding in several ways. Number one, you know exactly what ingredients are in the food you're eating. Number two, you can alter it according to your personal preferences. I have experimented with wheat flour, vital wheat gluten, wheat gluten, flax meal and oatmeal; the possibilities are endless! Number three, smelling bread in the oven that you made yourself is very satisfying. And finally, the taste! Nothing beats the taste of homemade bread.

This bread was the most like store-bought bread that I have ever made. It was extremely soft and tender, with an airy texture and just the right amount of crumbles. The flavor was mildly sweet and very addicting. I would like to adapt this recipe to include part wheat flour and possibly some other healthy add-ins, like wheat germ and grains.

Bread can be intimidating to many people, but I think you just have to go for it! I make mistakes along the way but always learn from them. My bread making skills have definitely improved since my french bread post and I'm still learning. Please ask me any questions that you may have, I will be happy to offer my advice!

Milk and Honey White Bread (Print)
adapted from Taste of Home Baking Book
Prep: 15 min. + rising / Bake: 30 min. + cooling
Yield: 2 loaves

2 packages (or 4-1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
2-1/2 cups warm milk (110 to 115 degrees)
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten (optional)
7 to 8-1/2 cups flour*

1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm milk and allow to rest for a few minutes. Add the honey, butter, salt, wheat gluten, and 5 cups flour. Mix with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. *The original recipe said 8 to 8-1/2 cups flour. I found that it was nearly impossible to mix the dough by hand after 7 cups. So I kneaded the dough in the bowl for a few minutes to incorporate the 7th cup of flour. Then probably used an additional 1/2 cup when I kneaded it on the counter. The amount of flour varies depending on humidity and the size of your 'cup.'

2. Turn onto a lightly floured counter and knead until smooth and dough is elastic when stretched, 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl. Turn the dough once to grease top. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45-60 minutes.

3. Punch the dough down. Divide the dough in half and shape each portion into a loaf. Place each in a greased 9x5 loaf pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

4. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. When I think the bread is done, I take it out of the pan to inspect the bottom. I say it's done when the bottom is evenly golden and it sounds hollow when tapped; others may tell you differently but I have found that only judging doneness by the top of the bread is unreliable. You can cover the top loosely with foil if it browns too quickly.

5. Remove from pans and place on wire racks to cool. Important: do not cut the bread until it is completely cool! It is tempting, I understand, but if you cut it too soon you will have a gummy interior that will make you think the bread is not done. I know this from experience.

It was taller than my bread box!
 My Review

  • Preparation: 4
    • I gave it a four based on the hands-on time. Rising and cooling is lengthy, so plan ahead.
  • Taste: 5
    • Phenomenal, definitely in my top two sandwich breads that I have made.
  • Cost: 5
    • Cheap ingredients with expensive taste!
  • Clean-up: 2
    • Bread-making can get messy; but that's half the fun! I have recently done my initial kneading in the bowl and then moved to the counter. This helps contain some of the flour, eliminates the sticky dough that inevitably gets stuck to counter when you first start kneading, and it helps prevent the addition of too much flour while kneading. I don't do it all the time, but there are circumstances where it is beneficial.
  • Changes
    • As mentioned before, I would like to incorporate some whole wheat flour into this bread. Whole wheat flour absorbs more moisture, can have a bitter taste because of the bran, and the sharp bran edges can cut the gluten strands, inhibiting the rise; so it is not always an exact exchange when substituting whole wheat flour. (Info is from Cook's Illustrated, I'm not that smart! But I learn a lot from that magazine).
  • Summary
    • This bread is amazing!!!

1 comment:

  1. Another tempting recipe! I bet this bread would be great toasted with cinnamon sugar! Yum.