The other night, I got the silly idea to bake a loaf of bread instead of buying one. I have actually made this once before, but apparently I forgot how long it takes to rise. Let’s just say that starting this at 8:30 p.m. was a poor choice.
It really isn’t difficult to make, it just requires about 3 and half hours between mixing, rising and baking. Also, the recipe makes TWO loaves, so if you only have one loaf pan (like me) you should probably halve it. I refrigerated half the dough, but it messed up the rising and the second loaf ended up looking kind of weird. We haven’t eaten any of that one yet, so I don’t know if it also tastes weird.
Now, this bread is good for sandwiches. And toast. But it really isn’t the kind of bread that is so amazing by itself that you want to eat the whole loaf immediately. So if you are looking for some normal (but fresh) white bread, this is your recipe. If not, wait a while. I just re-discovered this baking cookbook I have with a ton of other bread recipes in it. I will definitely try (and share) some soon.
Can you tell how much bigger that got? Yeast is pretty magical. Just make sure your kitchen is warm and that you don’t put the dough in a drafty corner. If it’s too cold, the bread will not rise as fast. (If you have a super cold kitchen, you can tun the oven on low for a few minutes, then turn it off and stick the dough in there to rise. Be sure to check it, because it may rise faster than expected)
See? Magic. Also, remember how I forgot to brush the egg whites on top of the bread before I baked it? Yours will look more golden and shiny on top than mine if you remember. It shouldn’t change the taste.
You can freeze the other (baked) loaf, if you don’t need both at once. Or just halve the recipe. This loaf made 12 slices, plus the ends. I recommend cutting it with a serrated bread knife (the edge looks like jagged teeth instead of a straight sharp edge) if you have one. It will slice much easier that way.
Honey white bread (From Barefoot Contessa at Home)
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees)
2 packages dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups warm milk* (110 degrees or a little warmer)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 large egg yolks (keep the yolks for later)
5 to 6 cups all-purpose (or bread) flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Place the water in the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook attachment. If the bowl is cold, make sure the water temperature doesn’t drop below 110 degrees. 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. 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. Make sure you add the flour slowly — you can always add more but you can’t take it out. Knead dough on medium speed for 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 and then turn it over so the top is lightly buttered. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and allow it to rise until doubled in volume (about an hour).
Grease two 9×5-inch loaf pans with butter. Divide the dough in half, roll each into a loaf shape and place them in the prepared pans. Cover again with a damp towel and allow to rise again for an hour, until doubled.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. When the dough is ready, brush the tops with one egg white and bake the bread for 40 to 45 minutes. It is done when it sounds hollow when tapped. Turn the bread out of the pans and cool completely before slicing. Store in a airtight container.
*The original recipe says whole milk, but I used skim and it didn’t seem to make a difference.
**You know that plastic thingy that comes with your stand mixer? It fits around your mixing bowl and allows you to add flour gradually while the mixer is on without getting flour all over your entire kitchen. If you can’t find yours, you may have to keep stopping it and adding the flour gradually. You can put a towel over the top of the mixer to cover it if the flour is flying everywhere.