I love to bake and have been creating yummy desserts in the kitchen since I was a young child. But, for some reason, bread is something that has always intimidated me. I worried that it wouldn’t rise right, that I didn’t know how to knead it, that the yeast wouldn’t work. Lots of excuses really. But, then I got a new cookbook, DK Step by Step Bread and with its clear photos and easy instructions I decided to tackle making some bread.
I chose this recipe for Italian Milk Bread because the description said kids love it, and the picture was just so enticing.
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp dried yeast
3/4 cup warm milk
2 large eggs, plus 1 egg for glazing
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil for greasing
1. Put the flour, salt, and sugar into a bowl and mix well. Dissolve the yeast in the milk, whisking to help it dissolve. Once the liquid has cooled, add the eggs and beat well.
2. Gradually pour the milk mixture, then the butter, into the flour mixture, stirring it to form a soft dough. Knead the dough for 10 minutes on a floured work surface, until smooth, glossy and elastic.
3. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and leave to rise in a warm place for up to 2 hours (until doubled in size). Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knock it back. Divide it into 5 roughly equal pieces. Ideally 2 should be slightly bigger than the rest.
4. Knead each piece briefly, and roll it out to a long, fat log shape. The 3 smaller pieces should be about 8 in (20 cm) long and the 2 larger pieces about 10 in (25 cm) long. Take the 3 shorter pieces and position them side-by-side on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the 2 longer ones on each side and draw the tops and bottoms together, flaring out the centres to form a “circle.” Pinch the top of the loaf together to ensure that the dough does not come apart.
5. Cover it loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel and leave in a warm place to rise, until almost doubled in size. This could take 30 minutes to 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 375 F (190C).
6. Gentle brush with a little beaten egg and bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and leave to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
I am excited to make this Italian Milk Bread again. Perfect for a family brunch or a weekend treat.