Once upon a time, I was gifted a bread machine. And I made a lot of bread. I can't even blame it on the kids because this was pre-kids. I'm not going to lie; I love bread and everything is better with a freshly baked loaf. My bread machine met its demise some years later. It sat on my shelf for a long time and even made an interstate move with us. I ended up giving it away to someone who was willing to make the effort to get it fixed. If I hadn't discovered, during this period of broken bread machine-ness, how easy it is to make a loaf of bread by hand, I probably would've kept the machine and gotten it repaired...eventually.
But luckily for me, I did make this life-changing discovery. How often do I realize that I'm out of bread and I'm too lazy to go to the store and I have nothing to make the kids' lunches with? Too often, I'm sorry to report.
While my husband and I have rustic loaves down pat, finding a good sandwich bread recipe is proving more difficult. I've tried a few, and when my friend Justine, of Full Belly Sisters, posted her recipe for a buttery brioche bread that she's been using in her son's lunches, I made a mental note to try the recipe.
Her recipe is for a bread machine, so what follows is my adaptation for a handmade loaf.
I used almond milk because I was out of regular milk (I made my own, super easy: just blitz one cup of almonds in three cups of water in a VitaMix, then strain through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth). I was out of sugar, so I used honey, measure for measure. Because I was using Active Dry Yeast, I followed the instructions on the jar, which called for more yeast, and more water. I melted the butter because my house is quite cold and the butter wasn't softening fast enough for me (I really wanted bread and now!).
|After the second rise. I didn't oil my plastic wrap and look what happened!!|
The order in which I mixed the ingredients was also different, and I did this based on my previous experience with baking bread:
- In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Wait for it to get foamy.
- Add the salt, sugar, milk, and eggs. Stir with a wooden spoon.
- Add the flour, Vital Wheat Gluten and butter.
- It'll be pretty wet and shiny. Give it a few kneads in the bowl, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Oil the plastic wrap. You won't be sorry. See my photo above.
- Rise it in a warm spot. I used my oven, which I had just turned off, so it was still warm. You can also turn on the oven light and use the ambient warmth from that.
- Let it rise until it doubles, about an hour. If your ingredients were cold, the rise will take a little longer.
- After the first rise, punch the dough down and shape into a loaf. Place it into an oiled loaf pan and recover with the plastic wrap. Let it rise again, for another hour or until it doubles or until it almost overflows the pan (oops...).
- After the second rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake the loaf for 30 minutes or so, depending on your oven.
The loaf came out nice and light, and very soft. Deeper kneading and a longer rise might've produced a sturdier custard (the texture of the inside of the loaf) but it'll do! I made the kids grilled cheese with it tonight. Lucky for me, they fell asleep before dinner and I got to eat it.