Baking bread is one of the most supremely calming experiences. It’s like yoga in your kitchen. I love the quiet moments standing at the counter, kneading, clearing my mind. This weekend I flipped through The Joy of Cooking (an excellent reference which I use it often, especially for baking when I need precise measurements), searching for the right loaf. I chose this one because it sounded so sweet and nurturing – milk bread – which is all I want to be right now.
2 1/4 tsp yeast
3 tbsp warm water
1 c milk, warmed to 105-115 degrees (however much that is – just warm on the stove until it feels like it’d be nice to take a bath in)
5 tbsp melted butter
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 c bread flour
1 1/2 – 2 c all purpose flour (I needed just 1 1/2 c)
Combine yeast and water and let stand 5-10 minutes. Stir in the milk, butter, sugar, egg, and salt. Add the bread flour, stirring to combine, and add all purpose flour until the mixture is moist but not sticky. Dump out onto a clean, floured counter and knead for 10 minutes. Think up an affirmation to repeat in your mind during this time, it will make your loaf even sweeter (wink!).
Roll the dough into a nice lump and put in an oiled bowl in a warm place covered with a damp tea towel and let rise 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours until it doubles in size. Punch down and refrigerate for 30 min, take out and let rise again in an oiled loaf pan in a warm place for another 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours. (Why you have to refrigerate in between I don’t know, but I did as I was told and it turned out wonderfully). Brush with milk and bake for 40-45 min at 375, remove and cool completely.