When the weather dips down, I get excited to bake all the things. Traditionally, I used to bake a loaf of bread a week. Even on maternity leave, I stuck to this many weeks because I love to bake and was often so scatterbrained I would have meat and cheese for sandwiches but no bread. I adapted a recipe from the America’s Test Kitchen’s Cooking School book. My parents bought it for my husband so he could learn to cook. That didn’t work. Instead of learning to cook, he just pointed at recipes he wanted me to make and then I would make them. At one point in my pregnancy, I baked all the breads and settled on this one because it was easy and so tasty. Plus, very quick to make (for a bread, I mean). I highly recommend Cooking School to all cooks. It’s like the Betty Crocker anthology my mom always had in her recipe drawer when I was growing up but with updated explanations and cool food science to boot!
I made this recipe so much that I eventually wrote it out in a scattered Frenglish due to sleep deprivation and posted it on our fridge (micro-onde anyone?). At this point, I don’t really need the paper recipe anymore. I have it memorized and down to a point. Included here, is my adaptation with a fall (and baby safe) twist. The original recipe uses honey for a sweetener but this, obviously, won’t work for us right now. We have a kid who loves bread but still can’t have local honey. So, I’ve replaced with it a great Canadian sub – maple syrup!
This recipe is so quick that you can set it and forget it for two short rises. A must is a stand mixer if you are going to make bread regularly. Mine is adapted for a mixer but you could sub a hand knead. It just will take forever. Of course, if you need a workout, it’s a good thing. It only takes about 15 minutes of prep time, 1.5 hours of time for rise and to preheat your oven, and then 40-50 min to bake. That seems like a lot but getting from 0-bread in about 2.5 hours is pretty fantastic. The best part? You don’t have to build a starter or proof the yeast. As the homebrew starter queen, this seemed an insult to my very nature but I trusted the cooks at America’s Test Kitchen enough to throw caution to the wind and just do it. It works! Just get good yeast!
1 cup of whole milk
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoon maple syrup
3.5 cups and 1 tablespoon of bread flour
3 teaspoons salt
1 packet of active dry yeast
Olive oil (or any other oil you’d like!)
- Get the liquids ready. Pour 1/3 a cup of water into a microwave-safe measuring cup. Then pour in the cup of milk. Put it into the microwave for 90 seconds.
- Turn on your oven for proofing. Turn it on to 200 F and set a timer for 10 minutes (it will heat up well before the ten minutes). When it stops, turn off the oven and leave the door shut.
- Pull out the measuring cup and insert a thermometer. Wait for the thermometer to get down to 110 degrees F. As you wait, add the maple syrup and insert the individual tablespoons of butter into it. Stir the liquid mixture only sparingly. Ensure the temperature is correct. If you don’t follow this guidance, you can easily kill the yeast.
- There will be just enough time to ready your dry ingredients while the milk and maple mixture goes down. Throw in the bread flour first, then throw in the salt and the yeast. Turn on your mixer on low for a couple of seconds and briefly combine. Use the bread hook.
- While you are still waiting, flour a surface and oil a large metal bowl to place your bread into for its first rise. You may also want to oil a bread pan for your second rise.
- When your liquid is at 110 degrees F, toss it into the mixer and start on low until your bread is pretty shaggy (about 30 seconds or so). Then, push it up to medium for 10 minutes. Just set a timer, walk, away, make coffee, whatever.
- When you return, the dough will be a beautiful, smooth thing that can hang ON the dough hook. Take it gently off the hook and then dump it onto your floured surface. There, knead for 15 seconds and toss into the bowl you just greased with your preferred oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the oven with the door closed for 50 min.
- When that rise is done, pull the dough out. It will have at least doubled. Pat it down into a long tube and then roll it up. The width of this should be about the length of your pan. Put the roll in the pan. Cover with a bit of floor and lightly drape a towel over it for the second rise. Put back in your oven for 30 min.
- When you remove the dough after the second rise, it will be well over the top of the pan. Remove, re-cover gently, an preheat your oven to 350.
- Once pre-heated, put your bread in to bake for about 45 minutes or until it is nice and browned and about 200 degrees.
- When the bread is ready, remove and put it somewhere to cool. It will smell incredible and make you want to eat it immediately but let it sit until cool or else when you cut it, it will compromise the bread. Slice it when you want to eat it so it does not dry out.
Enjoy! And protip: you might make two loaves by doubling this recipe and free one since this bread goes fast!
Baby R approves!