My father has always maintained that no other bread tastes as good as the humble milk bread. While I do not accept his thoughts on bread because I love whole wheat bread and some other breads as well on a hot summer's day I make a batch of milk loaves for my father who loves fresh soft milk bread with copious amount of butter spread on it and sugar sprinkled on it. And it becomes a heavenly treat with fresh cream on top
The truth is that, once you start making bread it is only through your experience that you come to know of certain important aspects which no recipe talks about.
For instance the first time I had baked a bread I had thoroughly searched the internet for recipes and most of them scared me until I stumbled upon Dan Lepard's artisan bread. It was well explained and my bread had come out perfect, yet after my experience with a couple of other breads it was only practice which made me realize that while the success of a bread baked at home depends largely on the right recipe so does some other factors. So, most people face a problem of the bread not rising but did you know that is bread is proofed beyond requirement it will rise and then start expanding but you need not worry because there is a solution. You simply punch it down knead and let it rise :)
Milk bread is one of the easiest breads one can bake and the ingredients are very easily available and stocked by most homes and so it usually saves you the trouble of going out to gather ingredients.
Here is what you need for the recipe :-
For the recipe I followed Dan Lepard's recipe to the tee but cut the recipe down to suit my requirements
312 gm all purpose flour + a little extra for kneading
1 tsp instant yeast
50ml cold water
188 ml warm milk
38 gm salted butter
13g castor sugar or honey (I had used honey)
Extra butter for greasing and kneading
1 tsp salt
Though not mentioned in Lepard's recipe I used extra milk to brush the tops before baking
Start by bringing the milk to a boil and letting it cool down to a lukewarm stage when you add the cold water and the yeast. Remember that the liquid must not be of a high temperature else it shall kill the yeast.
Next mix the flour, castor sugar or honey, salt and then melt butter and pour in in the dough. Use your clean hands to knead. Remember it will be sticky but you must not add extra flour else your bread will come out hard. keep kneading the sticky dough for 10 minutes and then let it rest for 10 minutes covered with a wet cloth. After 10 minutes grease your hands with butter and knead it till it forms a super soft dough and let it rise for the next 45 minutes to 1 hour.
|Before the final rise|
Here is the tricky part. Dan Lepard works in a cold country and I stay in a tropical one , so my bread was done in 50 minutes and then I punched it down and added flour to knead it and shape it. I divided it in three balls and shaped them like sausages by rolling them and placed them side by side. I covered it with the cloth and let it rise for the next 20 minutes.
|Ready to be baked|
Now preheat the oven to 180 C and bake for 40 minutes to 50 minutes in a well greased tray or a loaf pan. Do not forget to brush the dough with milk before baking it for a beautiful brown yet soft crust else your crust will blacken.
It is important to let the bread cool completely before slicing it up. It takes a bit of practice to get it out of the tray. Simply use a blunt knife to gently but firmly bring it out after 10 minutes and cool on a wire rack.
P.S. When baking the bread always use a tray of boiled water beneath the rack on which the bread is beign baked. This keeps the bread moist while it is baking.
Enjoy the soft slices buttered well . Indulgence is a luxurious necessity. In the end my father might have shown his mock anger and said, 'The daughter is doing nothing but baking . Why don't you open a bakery?' but his chewing on the buttered slice of milk bread said otherwise . Now I can happily go off to sleep and wake up to a delicious breakfast :)