Sunday, November 20, 2011

honey white bread

If you've been following my blog lately I've been making a lot of bread. Quick, enrichedlean. You name it, and I'll make it. Like I've said before, you really don't have to be scared about making and baking bread. Your mixer does all of the work! The only scary thing is proofing your yeast. And depending on what type of yeast you're using (active, instant, cake/fresh) will depend if you need to proof it or not. But that's a totally different blog posting.....Most likely you'll be working with active dry yeast, which is easily found in your local grocery store. Just remember if your water is too hot or too cold the yeast will show you it doesn't like it. It's gotta be just right, 110˚F. I usually use my instant read thermometer, but I know most of you don't have one of those. So when testing your water it should feel "warm-ish", tepid or lukewarm.

Back when I was a kid, white bread was a staple in most American homes. Even in my Filipino household we always had a loaf of Wonder on the kitchen counter. I'm not even going to deny that. I particularly liked pb&j on some squishy white Wonder bread and if you did too, you'll make this honey white bread. Move over Wonder .....there's a new white bread in town!

Honey White Bread 2006, Barefoot Contessa at Home
Makes 2 loaves

1/2 cup warm water (110˚F)
2 packages dry active yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups warm whole milk (110˚F)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 extra-large egg yolks ***I used large yolks and it was perfectly fine***
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Place 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˚F. Add the yeast and sugar; stir and allow the yeast to dissolve for 5 minutes. ***If you've followed these steps correctly, the mixture should look foamy***

Add the milk, butter and honey. Mix on medium speed until blended. Add the egg yolks, 3 cups of flour and the salt. 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 lightly floured surface and knead by hand for a minute, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Grease a large 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 to rise for 1 hour, until doubled in volume. ***I cover my bowl with plastic wrap and I place it in my oven that is OFF with a pan of recently boiled water***

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 or lightly drape with plastic wrap, and allow to rise again for an hour, until doubled in volume. ***For this second rise, I just leave it in a warm place*** 

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350˚F. When the dough is ready, brush the tops with the lightly beaten egg white and bake the breads for 40 to 45 minutes, until they sound hollow when tapped. ***You will be safe if you baked it for 45 minutes*** Carefully turn them out of the pans and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

This bread is best when it's fresh! But what bread isn't, right? If you want to freeze one of them, wrap it in a piece of parchment paper and then wrap tightly in two layers of plastic wrap. Defrost in your refrigerator overnight before consuming. The frozen bread doesn't have the freshness of the freshly baked bread, but it's great turned into toast, French toast, grilled cheese, croque monsieur, bread pudding, croutons and your ends make excellent bread crumbs.

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