MY MOTHER’S RECIPE #2 – Move over Poilâne

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“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world”. J.R.R. Tolkien

Hi there,

My grandson, Lucas, has been interested in cooking and baking since he was old enough to put Hershey kisses in peanut butter blossom cookies.

His mother has cooked with him since he was knee high to a grasshopper. As a result of that time spent with Mom in the kitchen, he has become an excellent cook who enjoys talking to his MeMe about food and cooking (lucky me). He has made all kind of delicious foods and has become quite accomplished in the craft of baking.

Lately, he has taken up baking bread and has perfected the New York Times recipe for Milk Bread. It is, oh my, amazingly delicious. It has the perfect crumb. As I said, watch out Poilâne, Lucas is coming to get ya. If you haven’t tried this recipe you should. It makes the best white bread for toast or sandwiches.

Japanese Milk Bread

By Julia Moskin

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE STARTER

  •  cup/45 grams bread flour
  • ½ cup/120 milliliters whole milk

FOR THE DOUGH

  • 2 ½ cups/325 grams bread flour
  • ¼ cup/60 grams sugar
  • 2 teaspoons/7 grams active dry yeast (1 packet)
  • 1 teaspoon/4 grams salt
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup/120 milliliters warm whole milk, plus extra for brushing on the unbaked loaf
  • 4 tablespoons/60 grams unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened at room temperature, plus extra for buttering bowls and pan

PREPARATION

  1. Make the starter: In a small heavy pot, whisk flour, milk and 1/2 cup water (120 milliliters) together until smooth. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook, stirring often, until thickened but still pourable, about 10 minutes (it will thicken more as it cools). When it’s ready, the spoon will leave tracks on the bottom of the pot. Scrape into a measuring cup and lightly cover the surface with plastic wrap. Set aside to cool to room temperature. (You will have about 1 cup starter; see note below.)
  2. Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, sugar, yeast and salt and mix for a few seconds, just until evenly combined.
  3. Add egg, milk and 1/2 cup starter. Turn the mixer on low speed and knead 5 minutes.
  4. Add soft butter and knead another 10 to 12 minutes (it will take a few minutes for butter to be incorporated), until the dough is smooth and springy and just a bit tacky.
  5. Lightly butter the inside of a bowl. Use your hands to lift dough out of mixer bowl, shape into a ball and place in prepared bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes.
  6. Punch the dough down and use your hands to scoop it out onto a surface. Using a bench scraper or a large knife, cut dough in half. Lightly form each half into a ball, cover again and let rise 15 minutes.
  7. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In the meantime, generously butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.
  8. Using a rolling pin, gently roll out one dough ball into a thick oval. (By this time, the dough should be moist and no longer sticky. You probably will not need to flour the surface, but you may want to flour the pin.) First roll away from your body, then pull in, until the oval is about 12 inches long and 6 inches across.
  9. Fold the top 3 inches of the oval down, then fold the bottom 3 inches of the oval up, making a rough square. Starting from the right edge of the square, roll up the dough into a fat log, pick it up and smooth the top with your hands. Place the log in the buttered pan, seam side down and crosswise, nestling it near one end of the pan. Repeat with the other dough ball, placing it near the other end of the pan.
  10. Cover and let rest 30 to 40 minutes more, until the risen dough is peeking over the edge of the pan and the dough logs are meeting in the center. Brush the tops with milk and bake on the bottom shelf of the oven until golden brown and puffed, 35 to 40 minutes.
  11. Let cool in the pan 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack and let cool at least 1 hour, to let the crust soften and keep the crumb lofty. (If cut too soon, the air bubbles trapped in the bread will deflate.)

Tip: The starter recipe produces enough to bake 2 loaves, because it’s difficult to cook a smaller amount. Discard the extra starter, or double the dough recipe and bake 2 loaves.

Talk Soon, ❤️💕 Bernadette

11 responses to “MY MOTHER’S RECIPE #2 – Move over Poilâne”

  1. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen – I'm a writer, cook, gardener, photographer, poet, quilter, and accomplished daydreamer. I'm also a wife, mother, grandmother, sister. cousin, aunt, and friend, no particular order on any given day. I've been a writer all my life, newspaper reporter and columnist, radio news writer, and magazine contributor, and poet and short-story writer as the spirit moves. Now, I turn my attention to my cookbook, the blog, and a cooking column "Memorable Meals," which runs in our county newspaper. Besides my family, I love dogs, cats, good coffee, chocolate, and my never-dwindling pile of books I intend to read. Our family ran a small Vermont Inn for 18 years, with our focus on local, organic ingredients. I cook from scratch, and try not to use anything that has ingredients I cannot pronounce! After many years of daily serving up local delicacies, cooking classes, and catering, we are now only open for special events, and the odd cooking class. We also host musicians and artists, having helped produce a musical festival and other musical events for nearly 20 years. Many incredible artists have found a place at our table. Wonderful experiences, we will treasure always. My family and friends are my practice subjects. With a family that includes nut, peanut, tree fruit, and vegetable allergies, gluten intolerance, dairy intolerance, vegetarians, vegans, heart conscious, and a couple of picky eaters, there has to be a few quick tricks in the book to keep everyone fed and happy! Personally, I do not eat red meat or most full-fat dairy (usually) for health reasons, making the occasional exception at Thanksgiving and Christmas or our anniversary if the duck is locally raised. I do eat fish and seafood, so I try to come up with alternatives and substitutions when available. I serve local organic eggs and cheeses to my family who can tolerate dairy (My husband recently had a heart attack, and I need to watch my own cholesterol so I am careful, but have been known to let a little piece of really good cheese accidentally fall on my plate!). I believe strongly that eating in a way that is good for our planet is also good for our bodies, and I try to educated myself about our food sources! I cook by the seasons and draw on inspiration from the strong and talented women in my family who came before me, as well as the youth in the family who look at the world with fresh eyes. Food links us all, whether sharing a meal, cooking it together, or writing about it for others to enjoy. I love taking an old recipe and giving it a modern spin, especially if I can make it a littler healthier and use foods that are kinder to the Earth and to our bodies. I believe strongly in sustainable, delicious eating of whole foods, and the wonderful flavors we have at our fingertips! And finally, I love conversing with all the talented cooks and chefs out there who dot the globe! It's a wonderful, world full of culinary pen pals, and I cherish them all! XXXOOO Dorothy
    Dorothy’s New Vintage Kitchen says:

    It’s wonderful to watch the kids and grandkids enjoy the delights of cooking and baking. Good job MeMe! PS, that’s my grandmother handle too!

  2. Darlene – British Columbia, Canada – Writer of children's stories, short stories and travel articles. https://twitter.com/#!/supermegawoman http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=201634059868404&id=631897250&ref=notif&notif_t=like#!/pages/Darlene-Foster-Writer/362236842733
    Darlene says:

    How wonderful to have a grandson who bakes! The bread looks fabulous.

  3. the Painted Apron – Life is all about creativity for me, as long as I'm creating something I am happy! I hope I will inspire your daily life and give you ideas for your own wonderful creations!
    the Painted Apron says:

    One of my grandsons loves to help his dad cook and prep, but usually it’s veggies and meat, so baking, wow! And bread is labor intensive so he is dedicated! I hope his love of cooking continues as he grows, the bread sounds wonderful!

  4. Chen Song Ping @ TPTan – Chen S.P. enjoys pottery works, cartoons, painting and poems. She shares insightful experiences about being a carer for people with mental illness and cancer.
    Chen Song Ping @ TPTan says:

    Handsome boy!

  5. This is very impressive, Bernadette! Lucas is my kinda kid and the bread looks amazing. Perfect loaf and I’ll bet it makes great toast. I hope he keeps at it! Oh, and I like his taste in music, too. 😉

    • He really like to cook and bake. I took him to see the Top Chef’s Junior before the pandemic. The music – his father is a professor of music and has a garage band and a Johnny Cash tribute band. A very artsy family.

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