We love this Bread from Heaven. It is delicious fresh from the oven, or toasted and slathered with preserves or butter. Thick slices make flavorful French toast and incredible sandwiches. For quick croutons, slices can be cubed, sprinkled with herbs and sautéed in a little olive oil. It is also the foundation for my Turkey Dressing.
And, if you want shaping options like artisan boules (see below recipe), braided loaves, hamburger buns, rolls, or even bread knots… this recipe has got you covered.
|WHAT YOU NEED||WHAT TO DO||WHY|
||Proof Yeast (for viability): Confirm water temperature with an instant-read thermometer. Stir together in a 1-cup measuring cup; set aside until there are signs of froth (4-5 minutes). Meanwhile, start the butter mixture.||Warm sugar water helps activate yeast, but over 120°F risks killing it.|
||In a 1-quart tri-ply saucepan, melt butter with honey over medium heat. Whisk together; remove from heat. Whisk in milk to cool. Set aside.||Raw (unpasteurized) milk inhibits yeast. Hot butter can kill the yeast in the next step.|
||In a 5-quart bowl, whisk all together and form a well. Pour butter and yeast mixtures into the well; whisk to draw flour from around the edges. As liquid thickens, switch to a bamboo mixing spoon, using a kneading motion (scoop the flour from bowl sides to plunge into the center, rotating bowl a quarter turn; repeat). To incorporate remaining flour, knead with your hand (press and deeply fold), forming a ball.||Weighing flour produces consistent results. Bread flour is high in structure building gluten; salt tightens that gluten. Flax enriches bread with Omega 3. Drawing in the flour makes mixing easy.|
||Evenly dust the workspace. Turn dough out on top; deeply fold 8-10 times. Flip smooth side up; invert bowl on top and rest 20 minutes.||Gluten continues to develop during resting, reducing hand kneading time.|
||Evenly dust the workspace. Place dough on top and knead (deeply fold, press palm into the dough, rotate a quarter turn; repeat) 1-2 minutes.||Kneading develops gluten, increasing dough elasticity.|
||First Proof: Dust dough surface; place in a 2-quart glass bowl. Cover tightly with a lid or plastic wrap; proof at room temperature (70-75°F) until doubled in volume (about 1 ½ hours).||Glass makes monitoring easy.|
||For Loaves (see other options below): Evenly butter two 9×5-inch loaf pans; set aside.|
||To Shape: Turn dough out onto the workspace. With a chef’s knife or bench scraper, divide into 2 portions. Punch each into a 7-inch square and roll into a tight log; pinch seams together to seal. Place sealed sides down in prepared loaf pans.||Excess flour at this stage can interfere with dough shaping. Rolling gives structure to the rising loaf.|
|Second Proof: Cover with an oversized inverted storage container; proof at room temperature (70-75°F) until almost doubled in volume (60-90 minutes).||Covering keeps dough surface soft for expansion.|
|In final 30 minutes of proofing, place an oven rack just below middle position. Preheat to 400°F “Convection” (verify with an oven thermometer). Bake until amber with centers reaching 200°F (22-25 minutes). Promptly transfer loaves from pans to a wire cooling rack.
Note: Lack of oven spring (rising in the oven) indicates over proofing.
|400°F produces a delicate, bubble covered crust. Ovens often run hot or cold or preheat slowly.|
TO FREEZE: Encase in bags marked with date/contents. Defrost in the bags (to minimize dehydration) at room temperature. Do not refrigerate; it stales bread.
FOR ARTISAN BOULE: Makes 1. Follow recipe down to the completion of the first rise. Evenly grease the interior of a 6-quart enameled cast iron dutch oven with 1 tablespoon butter; set aside. To shape: Punch dough into a disc, fold edges over to form a ball, pinch edges together and place smooth side up in the dutch oven. Cover with lid and complete second rise as directed. When baking, keep covered during the first the first 15 minutes of baking. Remove lid and finish baking as directed.
FOR BRAIDED LOAF: Makes 1. Follow recipe down to the completion of the first rise. Evenly grease one half sheet pan with 1 tablespoon butter; set aside. To shape: Divide dough into thirds. Shape each piece into a smooth 20-inch rope. Without pulling or stretching the dough, place ropes lengthwise across sheet pan, with 3 ends together at the far end. Pinch far ends together and tuck under. Braid ropes. Pinch finishing ends together and tuck under. Complete second rise and baking as directed.
FOR BUNS: Makes 16. Follow recipe down to the completion of the first rise: Evenly grease 2 half sheet pans with 2 tablespoons butter. To shape: Roll or punch dough into a 14-inch round. With a chef’s knife or bench scraper, cut 16 equal “pizza” wedges (cut round in half, each half into 2 wedges, each wedge in half and in half again). Shape each wedge into a ball by tucking points under and pinching to seal; flatten into a 3-inch round. Space buns, sealed sides down, across pans. Complete second rise and baking as directed, but baking will take about 15 minutes.
FOR ROLLS: Makes 18. Follow recipe down to the completion of the first rise: Evenly grease two 9×9-inch square cake pans with 2 tablespoons butter. To shape: Roll or punch into a 14-inch round. With a chef’s knife or bench scraper, cut 18 equal “pizza” wedges (cut round in half, each half into 3 wedges, each wedge into 3). Shape each wedge into a ball by tucking points under and pinching to seal. Space rolls, sealed sided down, in pans. Complete second rise and baking as directed, but baking will take about 15 minutes.
FOR BREAD KNOTS: Makes 12. Jessi and I created this variation May 8th, 2002. They went so fast we were asked to make a second batch. Follow recipe down to the completion of the first rise. Evenly grease 2 half sheet pans with 2 tablespoons butter; set aside. To shape: Roll dough into a 12×14-inch rectangle. In a small bowl, whisk 1 egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush evenly over dough. Sprinkle evenly with 1 tablespoon kosher salt and sesame seeds (optional). With a pizza cutter, cut into twelve 1×14-inch strips. Shape bread knots directly on sheet pans, spacing 2 inches apart. Complete second rise and baking as directed, but baking will take about 15 minutes.
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