September 20, 2008 · 13 comments

We All Know About TasteSpotting But …

in Bread,Vegetarian

… Do we know about YeastSpotting? YeastSpotting is a great event run by the lovely Susan of Wild Yeast, a most fantastic blog, well about all things yeast be they simple breads, sweet items or whole meals based around a yeasted product. If you haven’t visited her blog before please do, you’re bound to find a great deal of interest to you.

A while back one of my spelt breads was featured on the round up even though I didn’t submit (as is the usual way to take part) and it was this feature that gave me the knowledge that YeastSpotting existed – basically every time my blog is linked on another website I get a ‘pingback’ to let me know, which is a great way of finding out what’s going on around the blogsphere as well as seeing where I’m being ‘talked about’.

So I’ve decided to try take part as often as possible, especially with Bread Baking Day being out of action for a while; and lets face it the fact of the matter is this – it doesn’t take much to get me to bake bread.

My latest project was a milk loaf, uncharted territory for me as I haven’t touched the stuff for years, not since I ate terrible shop bought milk loaf in my school lunch box (see we’re going back rather a while here), but the description in BREAD MATTERS: The State of Modern Bread and a Definitive Guide to Baking Your Own (Andrew Whitley) made me stop in my tracks and try it again:

The addition of milk to a bread dough has a pronounced softening effect on the crumb. This, and the nutritional benefit of the extra calcium is probably why it was a nursery favourite. For those striving for softness in dough, milk is a much better way to achieve it than the hidden enzymes added by the baking industry. Whole milk gives the fullest effect, but semi-skimmed will still make some difference.

Putting 4 round pieces of dough together in a tin creates a slightly corrugated top, reminiscent of the fluted, tubular tins traditionally used for milk bread.

How could that not make you salivate at the thought of soft, slightly chewy bread, warm and dripping with butter? Well it certainly got my tastebuds going I can tell you.

The bread certainly did live up to the description given, being the softest white bread I’ve ever made, but certainly not in a pappy plastic bread way. Oh no this was soft but springy, perfect for moulding round whatever filling you chose; in our case ‘Old Irish’ sausages from my local butcher and a runny fried egg, sandwich bliss.

I have to confess though that I did eat a couple of slices warm from the oven with unsalted butter, ooh yum!

As you can probably tell from the photographs I used five balls of dough instead of the specified four but I thought it looked better that way. You choose what you want to do but do make this bread, it’s too good to miss out on, as is the book if only to explain why not to buy your bread in the way of pre-sliced, plastic bag varieties.

The Recipe (adapted version):

  • 260g whole milk, lukewarm
  • 5g fresh yeast
  • 400g strong white flour
  • 50g strong wholemeal flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Egg beaten with a little milk for glazing
  1. Dissolve the yeast in a third of the milk.
  2. Combine all the ingredients and kneed (by hand for 10 minutes or in a free-standing mixer for about 3-5 depending on the model), until soft and springy. You should notice the dough is softer than when made with water.
  3. Let it rise for two hours in a clean bowl covered with a tea towel.
  4. Divide the dough into 5 pieces and form into rolls, place in an oiled loaf pan side by side and cover with a tea towel.
  5. Leave to prove for 45 minutes (preheat the oven to 200C in the meantime) and then brush with the glaze before placing in the oven, reducing the heat to 180C, for 30-40 minutes, or until hollow to the tap and golden brown.