Monday, March 28, 2011

Honey White Bread

So, I do not know of anything that makes me think of a warm and safe home more than homemade bread. Comforting, delicious and essential to life, bread is really my favorite food. I decided to start with a recipe I have worked on for quite some time in an effort to balance the texture and taste. My sweet husband has tried many failures, but it seems I have finally hit upon the perfect ratio that produces a consistently yummy and versatile loaf. Tonight I had two helpers, our 4 1/2 year old Beagle Cort and Shafer, our brand new 12 week Golden-Cava-Doodle. Certainly makes cooking more fun to hear the little pitter pats of puppies eager for you to drop something! I hope you enjoy not only the bread itself, but also the warm smells and therapeutic process of kneading and baking bread.

This bread produces a loaf with a delicately soft interior balanced by a slightly toasted crust. The use of honey rather than sugar leads to a slightly denser loaf with a hint of sweetness, and the added benefit of supporting local honey makers!


1 packet of highly active yeast
3/4 cup of warm water
3/4 cup of warm skim milk
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons of local honey
2 teaspoons of salt
4 cups of all purpose flour (or bread flour) plus extra for kneading

1. Attach the dough hook to your standing mixer.

2. Empty the contents of one highly active yeast packet into the mixing bowl.

3. Add 3/4 cup of warm water to the yeast. I usually just use my kitchen faucet and let it run until it is almost hot. If you add scalding water to your yeast, you might kill it before you even start!

4. Add 3/4 cup of warm milk to the water and yeast mixture. I heat my milk in the microwave for about 35 seconds. Again, you do not want the milk to be too hot or you will kill the yeast. You just do not want the milk to cool down the water and yeast, so just barely warm will be just fine. I use skim milk as that is what we have at our house, but I am sure that other types would work.

5. Add 2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.

6. Add 4 Tablespoons of honey. I use local honey as I think it is nice to support our local honey makers and bees! Also, local honey is supposed to help lessen your allergies, I am not sure if I believe this, but I will try anything to get through Texas springtime.

7. Add 2 teaspoons of salt.

8. Stir this mixture together.
9. Add 4 cups of flour one at a time, mixing between each addition. The dough will form into a ball on the dough hook.

10. Once the dough has formed into a ball it will still be slightly tacky, dust the dough and your fingers with flour and remove the dough from the dough hook and put the dough on a floured work surface.

11. Kneed the dough for about 5 to 8 minutes, incorporating flour as needed so that the dough is not sticking to your hands or the surface.

12. Once the dough has attained a nice elasticity and is no longer sticky, form the dough into a ball and lightly dust it with flour.

13. Very lightly oil a ceramic bowl and place the dough in this bowl.

14. Cover the bowl with a light weight cloth and place in a warm spot. I generally use my oven, and in the middle of winter I will turn the oven to the lowest temperature for a few minutes and then turn it off before placing the dough in the oven to rise.
15. Let the dough rise for about 30 minutes, it should double in size.

16. After the first rise, take the dough out of the bowl and punch it down and form it into the loaf pan shape. No need to knead after the first rise.

17. Place the dough into your greased bread pan and cover with a light weight cloth.

18. Let the dough rise for about an hour, it should double in size.

19. Place the dough into a 375 degree oven and bake for 40 minutes.
20. Remove the bread from the oven. It should have a nice brown crust and when you tap the bread with your finger it should sound hollow.

I am currently enjoying my freshly baked bread and an ice cold glass of milk as a little midnight snack before bed. I feel like I am five and all will be perfect with the world when I awaken. Sweet dreams.

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