Milk bread (a simple sandwich bread)

March 31, 2010 § 2 Comments

I’m having one of my (not infrequent) days when I can’t sit still.  I’m up and down and up again, pacing across the room for no other reason than that I can’t glue my butt to the chair and do my work.  I’m supposed to be finishing up a powerpoint for a lecture on childhood nutrition I’m giving – tomorrow, ack!  (To an 8 am freshman nutrition class.  I do not think I can be blamed for not being super excited about this.)

Childhood nutrition…how much iron, how much calcium, when to introduce solids, what is their resting energy expenditure…it feels frustrating to be asked to talk about these parts of childhood nutrition right now.  It is important, I know, but I just feel like right now childhood nutrition – at least in this country – should be focusing more on getting kids to know their food and where it comes from.  What does a potato look like not in French fry form?  What is it like to have food that doesn’t come all packaged for you in a snappy silvery bag with a logo?  Having kids eat with their families, rather than in the car on the way here and there.  Having to call kids in from playing make believe games with their friends to give them a snack of an apple or bread and cheese, rather than letting them crunch on chips while playing their video games.

Sorry, I’m on one of my, ‘the system is messed up’ rants…But really, it kind of is!

One of my fits of standing up looking for something else to do while also thinking about child nutrition got me remembering when my mom used to occasionally bake fresh bread and give it to us with cheese as a snack.  The warm crusty bread, the melting butter, and the thin, cool slice of Jarlesburg.  Now that’s nutrition. I can’t believe now that we just took that for granted.  But, I’d like to work towards a world where kids can take that for granted again (not just moms, dads can bake snack bread too!).  So I baked a loaf of sandwich bread.  As we know, this seems to be how I procrastinate.

I keep being astounded by how simple bread baking is, (once you get past the stage of always killing your yeast with too hot of liquid, which I did reliably for several years) especially if you don’t do much kneading, which I don’t because I find that unkneaded dough gives a softer more pillowy crumb (splendid justification for someone who may or may not also be a tad lazy).  You just mix the yeast, liquid, and sugar, and let it stand.  Stir in the flour and let it rise.  Punch it down, shape it and let it rise again.  Then you bake, and can be engulfed by the wafting scent of bread baking (the most delicious smell in the world!), feel productive having gotten your hands directly into some real work with real results, and feel nourished eating a fresh slice of bread that has only ingredients in it that you put there.  It’s a pretty magical process.

Simple Milk Bread (makes 1 loaf, perfect for sandwiches, or after school snack)

  • 1 ¼ cup warm milk (around 100F)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4 cups all purpose flour (you could certainly replace half of this with whole wheat)
  • melted butter for brushing
  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the milk, butter, honey, and yeast.  Allow to stand for 10 minutes until the yeast is foamy.  Stir in the salt and egg.  Then stir in the flour to make a shaggy dough.  Form the dough into a ball, lightly grease the bowl, return the dough to the bowl, cover the bowl with a cloth and allow to rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until doubled. 
  2. Punch down the dough.  Knead it a couple of times on a lightly floured surface.  Form into a log shape, and put in a greased loaf pan.  Cover the pan and allow to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. 
  3. Heat your oven to 350F, brush the dough with melted butter.  Then bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Then remove from the loaf pan and allow to cool on a cooling rack, for as long as you please before you dive in and savor the deliciousness and comfort of home baked bread.  And hey, if you have a kid, let them help with some of the stirring!  That’s part of childhood nutrition in my opinion.
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