I’m a little afraid of baking with yeast.
I have had a lot of fails and only a few successes. It is temperamental, that yeast. Mixed with liquid that is too hot, it will die, too cold though and it wont proof correctly. So many times I have anticipated gorgeous golden loaves of bread or rolls, only to end up with dense, stout results. I go through the reasons for my bread struggles in my head. Maybe I kneaded the dough too much, maybe the yeast died, maybe there wasn’t enough yeast; it is difficult to know.
I want to get better at yeast breads, but sometimes I’m reluctant to spend a whole day or two waiting for the dough to rise just to end up with a failed product. Sally Lunn bread was a great start. Little ol’ Sally made some dang good and bread.
The bread resembles a brioche loaf, is easy and takes only an hour and a half to rise before it goes in the oven, not the days that most yeasted goods require. The sweet smell of yeast and butter fills the house (or apartment, in our case) and the loaf comes out of the oven with a beautiful golden sheen.
It is best to wait for the bread to cool before slicing, but sometimes you can’t resist. Sweet honey butter is slathered on top of thick slices of warm, fresh bread, melting before you can get it to your mouth. A golden crust holds the slightly sweet bread together as the butter soaks into the small nooks and crannies in the bread’s surface. Honey butter is the easiest way to make your guests think you are fancy, when you really just mixed together two ingredients you already had lying around. I won’t tell.
This bread is my stepping-stone to baking with yeast. It is a baby step but certainly one that made me feel good. I’ll take the little victories on the way to the end goal, especially the easy and delicious ones. Yes, please.
Sally Lunn Bread
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/8 teaspoon (1/2 packet) active dry yeast
¾ cup milk
4 tablespoons butter, salted, plus more for finishing
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine ¾ cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk and butter together until the liquid is warm, not hot (you don’t want to kill the yeast). The butter doesn’t have to be fully melted. Slowly pour the warm ingredients into the dry mixture and mix for about 2 minutes. Add the egg, egg yolk and ½ cup flour and mix for another 2 minutes. Add the last ¾ cup flour and beat until the dough is smooth.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for an hour or until doubled.
While the dough rises, butter and flour a loaf pan. Once the dough has doubled, pour it into the prepared pan. Spray a piece of plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray and cover the loaf pan. Let the dough rise for 30 more minutes. After about 25 minutes preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. If your bread starts to get dark on top before the inside is fully cooked, cover the pan with aluminum foil and continue to bake.
Remove the bread from the oven and, while it is still hot, rub butter on the top of the bread (everyone likes a little more butter). Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove the bread from the pan and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack.
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
1 tablespoon honey
Stir the honey into the butter until the honey is completely and evenly incorporated. Serve with fresh slices of bread.