Baked Goodies

Easy Milk Loaf

One of my resolutions for 2019 was to learn how to bake bread and get over my fear of yeast. Ever since I purchased my oven a packet of Active Dry Yeast was a permanent resident in my fridge as I was sure that I would be making a loaf of bread very soon. That was just less than two years back. In those two years I have made numerous cakes but just could not gather the courage to start handling yeast. That first packet of yeast I gifted to a friend when I relocated back to my hometown.

After many other life-changing events again, I bought a new packet of yeast and still, that fated moment did not arrive for me to start baking bread. But ever since keeping it in my resolution list I was hell-bent on achieving this skill. I will have to confess that before this recipe there have been three epic fails in which I am sad to say I had used recipes from big names in the baking world. I am sure it was a combination of something that I was doing wrong and some misinformation’s in the recipes.

I was very disappointed even though my hubby was a big sport and he was equally appreciative of all the nearly rock hard loaves of breads that I have made during my failed adventures.  He ate them all with a smile on his face!!

Now I was beginning to doubt myself and nearly gave up on my quest for baking a soft fluffy loaf. Once I thought maybe the problem is with the yeast or maybe it’s the temperature and so on and on. Then like a gift from God, there was a post in a baking group on Facebook, (Home Bakers Guild) which attracted me a lot. I followed this recipe with some modifications of my own. My previous three attempts gave me some idea about where I may have been going wrong.

Thanks a lot to Bhavana Raghunandan for her fail-proof bread recipe which helped me fulfill my dream of baking my own bread.

      Most of the previous recipes, I realized gave the wrong proportion of liquid or the wrong temperature of baking. Also, the exact timing of kneading the bread is the single biggest factor which can make or break your bread. This recipe gave some very important tips like covering the loaf with a wet cloth before slicing the bread which was a lifesaver. I will be giving all my tips and hacks with explanations at the end of the recipe.

My milk loaf recipe is a bit different from the original recipe but I am happy to say we were super duper happy with the outcome! I finally conquered my fear of yeast and bread baking and we enjoyed one of the softest and fluffiest milk loaf ever!

One piece of advice that I would like to give to all my friend is please do not be intimidated by the process. Unlike what everybody says please do not follow any recipe blindly. In case of bread dough, you have to feel the dough rather than using the exact quantity of liquid that has been mentioned. As anybody who has made dough for chapati/roti or Indian flatbreads will be knowing we never use a fixed quantity of liquid. You have to feel it that the dough is now just ready. For that, you add the water/ liquid bit by bit. Not in one go, please.

The rest of the tips I will give at the end of the recipe.

If you have any questions or fears, please do reach out to me for help. I will surely help you in your journey of bread baking.

And I am really very sorry that I do not have step by step photos or ingredient photos  but I promise my next bread recipe will have many photographs.

Preparation time: 30 minutes.

Rising Time : 90 minutes

Baking Time: 30 to 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  1. 2 cup All-purpose Flour (200 gms)+ extra flour for dusting
  2. ½ cup hot water
  3. 1 ½ tsp Active Dry Yeast
  4. Fresh Cream ½ cup
  5. Salt (to taste)
  6. 2 tsp Brown Sugar(or to taste)
  7. ¼ cup Raw Organic Honey
  8. 3 tbsp Melted Butter
  9. Clean Muslin Cloth
  10. Loaf Tin

Method:

  • Baking is always easier if you start by keeping all the ingredients on your work counter and all the mixing bowls, spoons, whisk etc ready.
  • The first step is to measure 1 ½ tsp of Active Dry Yeast and put in a bowl. Mix 1 tsp of brown sugar with the yeast.
  • Now you need hot water to activate or proof the yeast. Now the million-dollar question is how hot should the water be? There are many websites which define the exact temperature of water for ideal proofing of the yeast but that is of no use if you do not have a kitchen thermometer. So I will tell you the easiest hack for ideal water temperature. Boil the water and then cool it to a temperature at which you can just dip your finger comfortably. Since yeast is a living organism you do not want to kill it with too hot water but too cold water will also fail to wake up the sleeping yeast cells. Mix the water(1/4cup) with the yeast and sugar mix and stir gently. Then let the mixture be as it is for 10 to 15 minutes when you will see the mixture has become frothy. This indicates your yeast is now ready to be used.
  • While you are waiting for the yeast to proof, in a large bowl mix the flour with salt and sugar.
  • In a smaller bowl take the fresh cream and add the honey. Add some water to dilute the cream honey mixture to a slightly viscous texture.
  • When the yeast is ready, add it in the flour and mix with your hands. (Please do not forget to wash your hands very well)
  • Add 2 tbsp of molten butter into the flour mix.
  • Add the honey and cream mixture bit by bit and form a dough. It is very important to add the liquid in small installments and not all in one go as otherwise, your dough may become too sticky and difficult to manage.
  • Also, the amount of liquid required to form a proper dough is dynamic. It depends on a lot of varied factors. So please don’t pour in all the liquid at one go. It is very similar to how we make dough for chapatti.
  • Knead the dough for 15 minutes when you will see magic in front of your eyes and the dough will transform into a soft, silky and pliable dough. You will understand that the dough is done when it can be rolled into a ball.
  • Grease a bowl with butter and keep the dough ball in it for the first rise. Brush a bit of the remaining cream mixture on the top surface of the dough and cover with a moist clean muslin/cheesecloth. Cover with a larger bowl and let the dough rise for at least 1 hour.
  • After 1 hour you will see the dough has risen to nearly double its size.
  • Remove it the dough from the bowl and put it on a plate. Gently punch the dough to release the air and knead gently for about a minute to make the dough smooth. Roll the dough out with a rolling pin and then tuck in the side edges and shape into a shape of your choice. You can make a rectangular loaf, an oval loaf any shape that catches your fancy. I made a round and slightly flattened loaf.
  • Put the dough in the greased loaf tin and again cover with the bigger bowl and wait for the second rise. This should take around 30 minutes’ time.
  • After 30 minutes your bread dough is ready to be baked. It will rise again and become soft and pillowy and beg you to just poke in a finger but please don’t do that.
  • Preheat the oven to 180o C.
  • Brush the top surface of the dough again with cream honey mixture and bake for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  • While the bread is baking your house will be filled with the heady aroma of freshly baked yummilicious homemade fresh bread. This, in my opinion, is one of the best smells in the world!
  • After 30 minutes open the oven and your bread will be a wonderful golden brown colour with an even better aroma. An easy tip to check whether the bread is baked all through is tap the bottom of the loaf and if it gives a hollow sound then your bread is ready.
  • Remove the loaf from the tin. Brush the top crust with cream-honey-water mixture and again cover the bread with the moist cloth for 3 to 4 hours or even overnight before slicing the bread. Then slice the bread and toast it or have it just the way it is with butter or fruit preserves or in a sandwich.

P.S

1. I have realised from my journey that bread baking is more about feelings than about measurements (I know this sounds crazy but it is actually true). You will feel it when you add the right quantity of liquid and the dough just the just right consistency.

2. Kneading the dough with love and patience is a very important part of this recipe and so is proofing the yeast.

3. Covering the dough during the rising process helps to prevent the dough from drying out.

4. Milk brushing after the bread is baked and covering with the moist cloth helps to soften the crust of the bread and makes slicing the bread very easy. Please do not skip this step.

5. Before baking the bread you can sprinkle any raw seeds (poppy, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin) or rolled oats on the top surface of the loaf which will give the bread a very professional look.

6 thoughts on “Easy Milk Loaf

  1. This look amazing. I love the smell of fresh baking bread. Makes the house smell so wonderful! I haven’t really baked anything since Christmas. I think I am going to have to make this sometime this week 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Congratulations! I know how hard it can be to do intimidating things. And I would be intimidated, too. I have used bread mixes, but never tried to do it from scratch. Good for you!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The post was a bit lengthier than your usual posts. But, i could feel and relate every word you have mentioned. Awesome work darling. It was a fluffy loaf and tasted yummy. In your passion for baking, guess who gets the biggest prize? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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