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Friday, May 1, 2009
Milk & Honey White Bread
Bread is one of those things that seems to intimidate a lot of people, but if you have a good recipe, it really is fairly easy. And if you have a stand mixer, it is even easier. It's nice not to have to get your hands to messy! I have a 6 quart KitchenAid mixer and this recipe is on the verge of being to large for it. However, it is great to get it started, when it starts to crawl up and over the top of my dough hook, I take it out of the mixer and finish it up by hand. By that time, the dough is not very messy and is easily worked.
This is one of the best bread recipes I have ever come across. It is an easy dough to work with and it tastes fabulous. It has a soft crumb and rich flavor.
Milk & Honey White Bread
Yield: 3 - 8x4 loaves or 2 - 9x5 loaves
1 pkg active dry yeast or 1 TBS instant yeast
2 1/2 cups warm milk
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tsp salt
8 to 8 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Warm the milk to about 100 degrees and add the melted butter, yeast, and honey. Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add 5 cups of the flour and mix on medium with the paddle attachment for about 4-5 minutes, until the batter gets very elastic and stringy. Switch to the dough hook and add the salt and 3 more cups of flour. Knead on 2nd speed until flour is incorporated and the dough begins to come together. Continue kneading until dough becomes fairly smooth and elastic, adding up to 1/2 cup flour more. This dough will never lose its stickiness unless you add too much flour (resulting in a heavy, dense loaf). As mentioned above, I knead in my mixer until the dough starts to ride up the hook and then I finish kneading on the counter, about 3-5 minutes more.
Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Put dough in the bowl and spray again. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set the bowl in a warm place to rise. Allow to rise until it doubles in volume, about an hour.
Pour the dough onto the counter and knead it a few times to knock the air out of it. Let the dough sit while you prepare 3 - 8x4 loaf pans or 2 - 9x4 loaf pans by spraying them with cooking spray. Split the dough into 2 or 3 equal pieces (depending on pans being used). To shape the loaves, flatten dough into a rectangle and then roll up, tucking the edges under, and pressing the seam together. Place in the pan seam side down. Spray the tops with cooking spray and loosely cover with plastic wrap. The dough will expand, so be sure the plastic wrap has room to go with it. Set the pans in a warm place to rise until double, about 45 minutes. Do not let them rise too much or they could collapse in the oven.
When the bread has just about finished its second rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Carefully remove the plastic wrap. Do not put the loaves in the oven before it has reached the full 375. Place loaves in oven and a set timer for 30 minutes. At thirty minutes, test bread by sticking a thermometer in an inconspicuous place. You want the center to have reached 190 degrees. If it has not reached this temperature, continue cooking a few more minutes. Thumping these loaves to listen for a hollow sound as you do for a lot of other breads is not always a good measure of doneness because these loaves produce such a soft bread.
Remove bread from oven and let cool in the pan for 3-5 minutes. Have cooling racks ready and remove bread onto racks to cool completely. Try to restrain yourself at least 10 minutes before cutting your first slice (longer, if you can manage it... I never can). Cutting too early can lead to a gummy slice of bread because the starches have not finished setting yet.
Once the bread is complete cool, store in an airtight container. Loaves can be frozen for future use. Bake one for now and freeze the others for later!
If you do not have a stand mixer, simply mix the 5 cups of flour with a hand mixer and then stir and knead in the remaining flour. It works the same, it just takes a bit more elbow grease.