(Adapted from a recipe by Bernard Clayton.)
I've posted a couple of bread recipes lately – one post was entitled "Gooder than Sushi" Bread and the other was a simple French bread recipe, or Pain Ordinaire. Both are made from rather lean doughs, with little or no fats included in the ingredients. This tends to produce a chewy bread that is best eaten the same day it's baked. The "gooder than sushi" description came from my 6-year-old son, who absolutely LOVES sushi, but (that day) liked the bread even more.
I got an email about the "Gooder than Sushi" bread from Susan, who had made a batch of the bread but wasn't as impressed by it as Alex was. She mentioned that it was just dry and chewy, and asked if maybe she had done something wrong when she made it. I told her no, that's the way some breads are, but it got me thinking that I should probably find and post a nice, easy recipe for a softer bread.
So here it is. I made a few ingredient changes, based on what I had on hand at the time, and I think it came out pretty well. The loaves were soft and stayed that way for the few days they each lasted.
First thing you'll need to do is grease two 9" x 5" loaf pans and set them aside.
Now get out your ingredients…You will need:
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup milk
2 T sugar
2 tsp salt
2 T dry yeast
approx 6 cups all-purpose or bread flour
2 T unsalted butter
Combine hot water and cool milk, add yeast and sugar and allow yeast to bloom.
Mix salt and flour together.
Once yeast has bloomed, add in a couple cups of the flour/salt mixture – and the eggs and butter (I left this out when I originally posted – sorry!!!!) - stir to combine. Gradually add in more flour until the dough is stiff (or pulls away from the sides of the bowl if you're using a stand mixer.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. (If you want to see a series of shots of me kneading dough, you can go here.)
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise until doubled in bulk.
Punch dough down, re-shape into a ball, and place back in bowl to rise again until nearly doubled in size.
Punch dough down and divide into two pieces. Shape into balls and let them rest for a few minutes to allow the gluten to relax.
Press each ball down into an oblong shape about the length of your baking pan,
and then roll tightly into a baguette shape and seal the edges together.
Fold the ends under a bit and place in the pan, seam side down.
Repeat with the other ball of dough.
Cover the pans with a lightly greased piece of foil or plastic wrap, or with parchment or wax paper (you don't want it to stick)
and allow the dough to rise until it's well above the edge of the pan (a good inch or so).
While the dough is rising, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
Bake the loaves about 30 minutes or so, until golden brown. Tap the bottom of a loaf if you're not sure – if it sounds hollow, the bread is done. If it doesn't, bake another 5-10 minutes.
When the bread comes out, allow to cool at least half an hour before slicing.
If you want a soft crust, brush the tops of the loaves with melted butter
and cover for half an hour while cooling.
The butter will soak in and keep the crust from becoming crispy. (It may look a little wrinkly in the process.)
This bread is soft and moist and great for sandwiches, toast, or just a smear of butter
A loaf will keep, wrapped with plastic, for several days (if you don't eat it all the first day.) If you won't be eating both loaves right away, wrap one snugly with plastic and then with foil and freeze it until needed.