Serves: 1 loaf
1/3 cup cold water
2 tablespoons Turbinado sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 1/3 cups whole milk
3 1/3 cups flour plus dusting flour
For herbal bread, choose from the following:
Basil: 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon grated garlic, 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf basil, 1 teaspoon minced onion.
Caraway: 2 tablespoons caraway seed, substitute 1 cup of rye flour for 1 cup of white flour
Dill: 2 tablespoons dill seed, 1 teaspoon pressed or grated garlic, 1 teaspoon minced onion
Fennel: 3 tablespoons fennel seed
Italian: 1/2 tablespoon dried leaf basil, 1/2 tablespoon dried leaf oregano 1 teaspoon grated garlic, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Rosemary: 5 tablespoons fresh, minced rosemary
Thyme: 4 tablespoons fresh thyme and 1 tablespoon grated or pressed garlic
Warm water to 117° F.
Add sugar to water and stir until dissolved.
Add yeast to sugar water. Stir in.
Let stand for about 15 minutes or until yeast foams well.
Grease a large bowl with butter.
Butter the interior of a 9″x 5″x 4″ loaf pan. Chill loaf pan until ready to use.
Melt the remaining butter. Do not brown.
Add milk to butter.
Sift flour into a bowl.
Whisk together 2 cups of flour and the salt in a large bowl.
When yeast has proofed, bring milk and butter combination to 117° F.
Combine proofed yeast with warmed butter and milk.
Use a wooden spoon to mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients (4 – 5 minutes) until the mixture is smooth.
Add any herbal combination, if desired. Stir to distribute throughout the dough.
Slowly incorporate remaining 1 1/3 cups flour, 1/3 cup at a time. Mix the flour in until a soft dough forms, which leaves the side of the bowl.
Cook’s Note: The dough will be slightly tacky but can be handled with one’s bare hands. Reaching this stage may require less, all, or slightly more of the 1 1/3 cups flour. Do not add too much.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured, large piece of parchment paper on top of a cutting board.
Cook’s Note: The dough will come off the parchment paper on a pastry board with more ease than on an actual flour dusted pastry board, thereby minimizing the use of dusting flour.
Knead the dough for 10 minutes.
Form the dough into a ball and place in prepared, greased bowl.
Cover the dough with a clean cotton towel.
Allow dough to rise in a warm place, until double in size, 1 – 2 hours (depending on the temperature of the warming place).
Place a clean piece of parchment paper on the pastry board.
Punch dough down and knead 3 minutes by hand.
Form dough into a loaf the length of the prepared loaf pan.
Place dough in the prepared loaf pan.
Cover with a clean cotton towel.
Allow the dough to rise, in the warm place, until approximately 2″ above the rim of the loaf pan (2-3 hours, depending upon the room temperature).
When the dough has finished rising, heat oven to 350° F.
Once heated, bake bread for 30-40 minutes or until the loaf is golden and sounds hollow when tapped.
Turn out loaf onto wire rack to cool.