White Loaves: Plain and Fancy
For me, the most gratifying thing to bake is bread. Oh, I love to bake cookies, cakes, and pies, but nothing makes me as proud as baking my own bread. I am so proud of my bread and it is so treasured by those in my house, that it is rarely shared. If I offer you a piece of my homemade bread, you are either A) a part of my family or framily or B) one of my dearest friends or you could also be C) in the right place at the right time with me in a good mood.
I was excited when the first Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) recipe was the white bread. It’s been years since I have made this recipe. I’ve made lots of white bread recipes since, but I don’t clearly remember making this one, though I am absolutely certain I have made it some time. All in all, it’s a straightforward recipe, except for one step that I did not expect: after mixing up the dough, you are instructed to knead in some butter. I am familiar with doing this in eggy breads, especially of the brioche variety, but in plain white sandwich bread, I thought it interesting that the butter would be kneaded in at the end instead of mixed in at the beginning. Butter can coat flour particles, which can also inhibit the dough from forming those nice glutinous strands that we are all familiar with in yummy bread. So, adding in the butter after the dough is all mixed up helps the dough reach its full glutinous potential. It’s supposed to make a difference in the final texture of the bread. At least, that’s my guess based on what I know about bread making.
It was a little tricky. My dough slipped around the bowl for quite awhile before all the butter was incorporated. You can see a big glob of butter in the bowl in this photo.
After about 8 minutes, though, my dough smoothed out and looked great. The rise times were spot on. You can see before and after photos of the first proofing below.
This is a great recipe because it just takes up one morning or afternoon. It’s uncomplicated and, while not exactly instantly gratifying, it is almost as close as you can get in bread baking. It also makes two loaves, which is great, because you can have one plain, and experiment with the other one, like I did.
The usual additions (raisins, cinnamon, cheese) all seemed a bit run of the mill to me, but I So wanted to do something different with the second loaf. Then, I remembered a recipe that used apple butter as a swirl and Ding! My internal light bulb went off. I dashed down to basement larder and picked up a jar of Cherry Vanilla Grapefruit Jam that I made over the summer. I would make a Jam swirl bread. It would be a new way to eat bread with jam!
It looked beautiful when it came out of the oven.
And it tasted good too, though, next time I think I will bake the loaf a few minutes longer. The middle few slices felt a tad doughy around the jam in the middle, but no one complained. It is also really good toasted with some butter on it.
If you want to try making this bread yourself, the recipe is posted here. If you are new to bread making, this is the perfect first loaf to try.