Sunday, December 25, 2011

Braided White Loaf

It's Christmas Day and we're spending it on the boat since all of our family scattered in the various in-law directions.  Baking is the way I relax so it's a perfect day for a good loaf of bread.  This is my favorite recipe because it's so versatile.  You can make it in a regular loaf, in this braided loaf, in a braided loaf on a cookie sheet instead of in a pan, you can add some brown sugar and cinnamon to the dough and then roll it up jelly roll fashion with butter and cinnamon sugar to make some of the most fantastic cinnamon bread, and I've even added cheese to it at some point for a great cheese bread.  It will also make terrific soft rolls for sandwiches. If you've never made bread before, never fear - this is a very forgiving recipe perfect for yeast newbies! This recipe makes 2 loaves, but you can cut it in half.

In a large mixing bowl, mix 2-1/2 C. flour, 4-1/2 tsp dry yeast, 1 TBL sugar, 1 TBL salt.

Heat 1 C. milk, 1-1/4 C. water, and 3 TBL butter in a saucepan to 130°. The butter will not melt. Remove from heat and stir until butter is melted. Add to dry ingredients and beat rapidly with a spoon or whisk for 3 minutes.

Add 3 to 3-1/2 C of flour until dough forms a ball and begins to clean the side of the bowl. Add enough flour so you can handle the dough without it sticking excessively to your hands, but not so much that it becomes dry.  If the air is very humid it may take the whole amount, if dry it may take less.Knead the dough for 5-8 minutes, adding additional flour to keep it from sticking to your hands and your work area.  Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Grease a large bowl well with butter or oil.  Place the ball of dough in the bowl and turn over to grease the top.  Cover the bowl with a very damp towel and put in a warm place to rise (heat your oven for a few minutes and  then turn it off and put the bowl inside.) Keep the dough away from any drafts.

Let rise until almost double in bulk., 30-45 minutes.

Punch down the dough and gather it into a ball.

Divide into three evenly sized

Roll each portion into a rope about a foot long

Braid the ropes together from the middle to one end.  Press the ropes together and tuck underneath. Turn the braid around and braid from the middle to the other end.  Press the rope ends together and tuck underneath.

Place in greased loaf pan, cover with damp towel and put in warm place to rise, about 30 minutes.

When nearly doubled, preheat oven to 400°.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped on bottom and crust is golden brown.  If crust browns too quickly, cover loosely with aluminum foil the last 10 minutes.  Remove from pan to cooling rack.  Brush top of loaf with melted butter.  Let cool completely before slicing.

Merry Christmas and Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Ok. I think I have finally got this down and a couple of false starts. I have only had one other mishap since and that was only because I used the wrong flour again (canister was unlabeled). I made a double batch Sunday and froze one for next week. Thanks so much for passing your yummy recipes on.