Got home today and I’m now making more bread. I’ve been making this simple sandwich bread for the last couple months, and it’s getting better and better so I thought I’d share it. I got the recipe from a book called Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland by Lucia Watson and Beth Dooley. Lucia runs a restaurant/bakery/wine bar in Minneapolis, which is slightly French rustic inspired, although this cookbook is all northern midwest food. Yes, including hotdish. And Saint Lucia buns. I’ve only tried the chicken pot pie and this bread, though.
I started out with the simple bread recipe from my KitchenAid mixer recipe book and moved on to this one, finding it far superior. It’s pretty easy. The only annoying thing is waiting for the milk to cool down to 105-115 degrees: a watched cooling saucepan full of milk never cools…But once that’s done it goes fast and you can do other things while it’s doing its two rises. This recipe makes two loafs of bread and after punching the dough down after the first rise I put half of the ball in the freezer wrapped in plastic wrap. I usually cook it later in the week, so I’m not sure how long it lasts in the fridge. I’ll take it out earlier in the day, take off the plastic wrap, and let it defrost on the counter, turning it over occasionally. Then I’ll leave enough time before I want to eat it and form it into a loaf and let do its second rise. Sometimes this takes a little longer than the one I didn’t freeze, but it works! Once it’s cooked, I store my bread in aluminum foil. I’m not sure if this is the ‘right’ way to store bread, but it lasts a fairly long time this way.
Also, I forgot to mention in my last post that I learned that you should have all your ingredients be at room temperature before you start mixing them (except whatever needs to be warmer–milk, water–for the yeast). Apparently it’s a shock to the bread if you throw in a cold egg or cold butter. I keep my yeast in the fridge, so I’ll just pull it out a bit before. I have some in the freezer too, but I’m not sure if you can store yeast in the freezer so that will be an experiment for another time.
lucia’s milk bread
adapted from “Old-Fashioned Milk Bread” in Beth Dooley & Lucia Watson, Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland
3 cups milk (I use 1%. Lucia calls for whole, which I’m sure would be even tastier. Skim probably not so great)
2 tablespoons or 2 packets active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
7 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter room temperature and a little extra for greasing the bowl and bread pan
Heat the milk in a saucepan so that it just boils. Let it cool until it’s between 105-150 degrees F. Pour into the mixing bowl and add yeast and sugar and briefly stir. Let proof for about 5 minutes. It will bubble up a bit. Add 3 cups of flour, salt, and the stick of butter cut into about 9 pieces. Mix with the mixing blade until smoothish. (If you do this by hand Lucia says to beat until smooth) Switch to the dough hook and add another cup of flour. Knead on low (#2 setting) adding the rest of the flour about a 1/2 cup to 1 cup at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball on the hook. This time I used about 6 1/2 cups of flour total, not the whole 7 1/2 cups. Grease a large bowl with butter and put the dough in there rolling it around briefly so that it’s covered in the butter. Cover the bowl with a clean towel. Let rise for about 45 min to 1 hr. I let it rise in my oven after I’ve turned it on for about a minute and it seems like it’s about 80 degrees. Once it has doubled in bulk, punch it down and divide it in half. I put one in the freezer but you can bake them both if you have two loaf pans. (I don’t.) Flatten the half out into a rectangle about 10 inches long. Roll from the short end, pinching down the inside crease as you go so it forms into a loaf looking thing. Tuck the ends under and place it in a buttered loaf pan, pushing it down with the palm of your hand. Let rise again for about 45 min. It should come above the pan a bit. Bake for 45 minutes at 400 degrees F. When it’s finished it should sound hollow when you tap the bottom.