I have been thinking about making Zopf, which is a Swiss bread, introduced to me by my sister in Canada. She had been given some and enjoyed it immensely. But I decided that before I tried to make that, which requires the dough to be braided, that I would make a milk bread loaf. This is probably very similar in texture and taste, since both are enriched dough, with milk and butter.
I found a very good recipe in The Guardian, by Dan Lepard, from about 4 years ago. This recipe called for a large loaf tin, which meant nothing to me, as it was rather imprecise. But I was sure that the recipe amounts would make a much larger loaf than could safely fit in my 2 lb loaf tin. So I decided that I would make the recipe, but would try to reduce the amounts to make a good sized loaf, that worked for my tin.
This recipe is unusual in that it doesn’t really take much kneading. Most of us think of bread as having to be kneaded for quite a while, in order to get the right structure in the dough. But for this recipe none of the kneading takes more than a minute at first and then 20-30 seconds or so each time.
I am very pleased with how my loaf turned out, it rose well and tastes simply wonderful. Ideal just as bread with butter and jam, or marmalade, or for use in a sandwich. The way I made it, forming two balls and placing them side by side in the loaf tin, means that it is easy to divide into two, for freezing half if required.
- 300ml whole milk
- 80ml cold water
- 12g fast action yeast
- 500g stong white flour
- 10g salt
- 20g caster sugar
- 60g softened butter
- Heat the milk to almost boiling point and pour into a bowl.
- Add the cold water to help cool the milk down.
- When the milk has cooled to a gentle lukewarm sprinkle the yeast over it and add a teaspoon of the sugar.
- Stir the mixture and set aside for 5 minutes, to activate the yeast.
- In a large bowl mix the flour, salt and remaining sugar.
- Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture.
- Use a spatula to stir everything together.
- Once all the mixture has come together cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave for 15 minutes.
- Remove the plastic wrap and add the butter to the dough mixture.
- Use your hands to mix it all together, giving a fairly vigorous knead for about one minute.
- Very lightly oil the work surface and tip the dough onto it
- Knead for about 10 seconds and form into a ball.
- Grease the bowl and place the dough in it.
- Cover with plastic wrap again and leave to rise for an hour, kneading for 20-30 seconds twice during the hour.
- Butter a 2lb loaf tin.
- Tip the dough out onto the work surface and shape. Either divide in two and form into balls and place them side by side in the tin, or form into a single sausage shape and place in the tin.
- Cover and allow to prove until the dough has increased in size by about 50%(mine took 45 minutes)
- As the dough proves preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F.
- With a sharp knife slice the length of the dough about .5 inch deep.
- Sprinkle the top with flour.
- Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes, until the top has browned nicely.
- Remove and tip the loaf out onto a wire rack.
- Tap the bottom to make sure there is a hollow sound(if not hollow sounding bake for a little longer).
- Allow the loaf to cool before slicing.