Sunday, January 11, 2009

My Bread

When my family members ask me to make "My Bread," this is the bread they want. It's very rich and tender, made with milk, butter and eggs. It's a variation of a Challah bread. You can braid it, or you can spread the dough with melted butter and then sprinkle with brown sugar and ground cinnamon before you roll it up into a loaf to make cinnamon bread.

I've been making this bread for over 32 years, and this is the recipe I use. This is it. There's nothing more on the back.I like to use maple syrup, but you can use honey or molasses. One thing - If you use maple syrup, use REAL maple syrup. Don't use an imitation, and DON'T use "pancake syrup." It is -not- the same thing.

You can eliminate the powdered milk, soy flour and wheat germ. Those simply make the bread more nutritious. I never measure the flour, but I can tell you six loaves will use most of a five pound bag of unbleached white flour. (I use King Arthur.)

Whenever I make this bread, I always make six loaves. It will disappear within a day. My sister will literally get in her car and drive five miles to my house to collect a couple of loaves when I call her to say it's come out of the oven.

Lynne's Bread
(makes 6 loaves)

4 cups scalded milk
2 sticks butter
1/2 cup maple syrup (or honey or molasses)
4 teaspoons salt
3 Tablespoons (or packets) of Active Dry Yeast
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
6 eggs
16 cups unbleached white flour (more or less!)

In a saucepan heat milk and butter until warm. You want the butter to melt. Don't let the milk boil. Pour into a gigantic bowl and add the salt. Stir.
Add the maple syrup (honey, molasses...) to the milk mixture. Let cool until 105F - 115F. Use a thermometer to check.
Proof your yeast. The water should be between 105F to 115F degrees. Use a thermometer. Add the yeast and a tablespoon of sugar, stir to blend, then cover with a baggie and let the yeast grow.
It should look like this. If it doesn't grow like this, start over.
While the yeast is proofing, beat the eggs together in a separate bowl.
When the yeast has proofed, add it to the bowl with the eggs and three or four cups of flour, and mix together.
Mix with a wooden spoon, adding flour one cup at a time, until the dough begins to pull away from the bowl and forms a ball.
Turn the dough onto a floured board and knead, using a dough scraper if necessary. Add flour as needed. To knead, push the dough away from you, give it a quarter turn, grasp the far edge and fold it toward you and then push the dough away.
The dough is ready when it won't absorb more flour, is spring-y, becomes a ball and it bounces back when pressed lightly.

Place in a large, buttered bowl, pressing down, then turn it over so the entire surface is covered. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set in a warm draft-free place until doubled in bulk.

Like this.
Punch the dough down. Turn the dough over, cover and let rise again. Ooooh! Nice and doubled. Smells good! Punch it down, and turn out onto a lightly floured board.
Shape into loaves. (I forgot to take pictures. I divide the dough into equal sections, roll it out into a rectangle with a rolling pin, then roll it up from the narrow end, and seal the edges.Place in six 8-1/2" x 4-1/2" x 2-1/2" lightly greased pans. Cover, and let rise. The dough should be popping up just above the edge of the pans.When the bread has risen, you may want to beat an egg with a bit of water and brush this over the tops of the loaves. This makes them shiny. While this mixture is still wet, you sprinkle sesame seeds, or poppy seeds over the top.Bake the loaves in a preheated 375 F oven for about 35 - 45 minutes, or until the loaves sound hollow. I bake it until it smells done.Turn out the loaves and let cool on a wire rack. Resist the temptation to cut into a loaf while it is hot. Let them cool a bit.This bread is so tender, you really don't need any butter. It's very good as is. Don't store your bread in the refrigerator. It just dries it out. All bread freezes well.