Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter Bread

The Sponge = 1 c. warm water + 1 c. flour + 1 packet of yeast.
Mix this first and set aside.
If it doesn't eventually develop bubbles, your yeast is no good, toss it and start over.

I enlisted my crack team of assistants to help me with the whisking, as we do not have a mixer. You hear that? NO MIXER. People all over the world were baking bread before the invention of machines. It makes you strong. We took turns whipping together:
1 1/2 c. sugar + 1/2 lb (2 sticks) of sweet butter (room temperature),
till fluffy, about 20 minutes altogether, counting shift changes.
Once the butter is light and fluffy, we whisked in half a dozen eggs, ONE AT A TIME.
Reserve a yolk or two, for glazing the loaves.
After the eggs are mixed in, I whisk in 1 1/2 tsp. salt.

In my trusty measuring pitcher I combined 1 c. plain yogurt with 1 c. milk.
Add flour (roughly 2 c. at a time) to the egg mixture alternately with the milk mixture. I can't tell you exactly how much, I used about half of a five lb bag. Make sure each addition is well combined before adding the next. After you add the last of the milk, mix in the sponge.

Add flour till the bowl full of goo starts to look like dough. This could take a while, don't despair. At some point you will have to turn it out of the bowl onto a floured work surface. Keep kneading till your dough is smooth and elastic. It took me half an hour to get there, but your mileage may vary.
This kneading process was happening after Delia went to bed, and I didn't think I would be able to stay awake long enough to bake the loaves, so I let them rise once while I was watching the first 2 episodes of season 2 of Slings and Arrows (thanks DVD Fairy!) and then punched them down and refrigerated them overnight.
The next morning Jack and Nerfa woke me up at 7AM fighting over a plastic bag, so I got up and shaped the loaves. The dough was pretty stiff, I don't think I kneaded it quite enough the night before but with a little finessing it braided up into two lovely loaves and one small twist that we ate for breakfast.
Brush the braided loaves with egg yolk before you put them into a 350 degree oven to bake for 30 minutes or so. They should reach an internal temperature of 190. If you don't have a kitchen thermometer you should be ashamed of yourself, but know that a cake tester, metal skewer or other probe like implement should come out clean when plunged into the warm heart of your loaf.

Here is the original recipe.


Anonymous said...

Ooooo yummy!

Mom n Dad

Heidi Ho said...

When I have my new house and new kitchen...will you come and bake bread with me??? Or...should I say, TEACH ME how to bake bread???

Serafina said...

You betcha I will! It is super fun and not all that difficult once you get the knack of it.