Let's try it without a bread machine...
The last several articles on this column shared ideas and recipes for making bread in a bread machine. While it's been fun to play around with my machine, it's also been a bit of a challenge to get the perfect result. Yeast is the problem child in the formulas , too much and the bread hits the top of the machine and collapses just before baking. Too little and it never rises to its full potential.
Actually the biggest problem is that there's only so much bread a two-person household can eat. One can only eat so much bread.
Today, I am trying a different approach. Rather than making a recipe in the bread machine and hoping for the best, I am making the bread the standard way -- in a mixer, and tracking the timing of the various stages.
With this data, it should be a bit easier to adapt the recipe for success in the bread machine -- should being the operative word.
Pan au lait recipe
The recipe du jour comes from "Professional Baking" by Wayne Gisslen; this is a cookbook that countless aspiring bakers and pastry chefs use in culinary school. Pan au lait, which translates to bread with milk, is today's choice because I am after a lovely, soft bread to contain my fresh roasted turkey sandwiches. Weighing in at over four pounds, this is a rather sizeable batch of dough from which I expect to make sandwich bread and something else fun, likely cinnamon rolls.
- Crumb: Medium-fine crumb, great for sandwiches
- Density: Medium density, it is neither too thick nor too thin
- Texture: Firm, yet spongy
- Staling: Stays fresh for a couple of days, edible for 3-5 more
- Crust: Chewy, sturdy, satisfying. Burns easily due to high sugar content
- Molding: over 5 days before it shows signs of molding
As always, scale your ingredients in metrics for the best results, but if all you have is measuring cups, the equivalents are listed as well.
- 500g Whole organic milk (2 1/8 cups)
- 100g Cane sugar (1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon)
- 20 g Salt (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 30g Dry Active Yeast (2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons)
- 100g Eggs (2 large eggs)
- 1000g Bread Flour (8 cups)
- 150g Butter, soft or whipped (5 ounces or 1 1/4 sticks)
Mise en place:
- 5 quart or larger mixer with dough hook
- Measuring bowls (1 for each ingredient)
- Soft Spatula
- Small-medium sized saucepan
- Extra-large bowl for proofing, buttered
- Damp Towel
- Buttered baking pans (loaf, sheet pan, etc.)
- Bench flour
Notes, tips 'n tricks
Total proofing time comes out to 120 minutes. If you want to make this in a bread machine, cut the recipe in half and check the settings on your machine. Choose the cycle with proofing time that is closest to 120 minutes.
It's important to use bread flour for this recipe. I used regular flour augmented with vital wheat gluten, and it wasn't enough. The bread still came out delicious, but never developed the smooth texture I wanted.
If you adapt this to a bread machine, make sure to mix the yeast, milk, egg, butter and sugar a little before adding it to the machine. Then add the flour and the salt on top of that. You may need to increase the yeast by 25-50% so that it fully rises before the baking cycle kicks on.
This recipe lends itself very nicely to sweet rolls like sticky buns and cinnamon rolls.