Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Butter Top Bread

Maybe it is it's ancient origin, or maybe it's ubiquitous nature, but the smell of bread wafting from the kitchen evokes a feeling of security and well-being. Whatever our many ancestors did and wherever they came from, surely all passed down the memory, somewhere deep in our cells, of the fragrant aroma of wheat being pulled from the hot oven and sliced, releasing its welcoming aroma.

I've been looking for the perfect bread recipe. This one came from a Martha Stewart magazine, although I have altered it slightly, mostly in the method. I find that leaving the bread dough in the refrigerator overnight not only enhances its texture and taste, but divides the work time, giving me a little in-between rest. I also refrigerate the dough a small while after it has risen in the pans. It seems to hold it's shape and is easier to butter when I do this.

Butter Top White Bread

2 1/4 ounce envelopes yeast
2 1/4 Cups warm water (110 degrees)
4 Tablespoons honey
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3 Cups Bread flour
4 Cups All-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons pink salt or sea salt

• Warm water in microwave. Mix 2 T honey and yeast into water and cover. Let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Sift flour and whisk salt into it.

• Place yeast water and 3 cups of flour mixture into mixer with dough hook attached. Add remaining 2 T honey and melted butter. Mix on low speed. Gradually, add remaining flour, until dough pulls away from the sides of the mixer. Place dough on lightly floured surface.

• Knead dough for 5 minutes. It should retain a slightly moist feel to the surface, but not be sticky. Butter a large bowl, and place dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap.

• Place dough in the refrigerator and let rise overnight. The next day, punch down and shape into two loaves. Place loaves in two buttered and floured pans.

• Turn on oven to 350 for 1 1/2 minutes. Place a pan of steamy water in oven. Allow loaves to rise in steamy oven for 1 1/2 hours. They should peek over pans 1-2 inches. Place risen dough in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

• Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove bread from refrigerator and butter tops with fingertips. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through. Allow to cool, and butter tops once more.


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