A milk loaf is one of those breads that is loved by every member of the Gourmand family, I love a fresh loaf of bread but I don’t always have the time to make it as Baby Gourmand is guaranteed to do something he shouldn’t while my back is turned in the kitchen. I’ve recently taken to making this loaf rather than a typical loaf of bread as I can get Baby Gourmand to help me knead and plait it and he’s more than happy to wait while I do all of the boring bits like pour the ingredients into the bowl and stir the mixture if he knows he can participate.
To make this loaf you will need:
500g strong white bread flour
30g unsalted butter
25g caster sugar
320ml whole milk (warm)
7g sachet of instant yeast
1 tsp salt
Vegetable or coconut oil
1 egg and some extra milk for a egg wash before baking (If you have an allergy to egg just use milk)
I’m lazy and make my bread in a food mixer but you can quite easily make this by hand it just takes a little longer.
Place the butter and flour into the mixing bowl and mix until no large lumps remain. Add the salt to the left of the bowl, the sugar in the middle and the yeast to the right of the bowl. Add two thirds of the milk a little at a time, and mix on a low speed until a soft dough is formed.
Oil your work surface and knead the dough until it is soft, smooth, silky, and elastic. I tend to do it for a few minutes, let Baby Gourmand have a turn and then finish it myself. Place the dough into an oiled mixing bowl and cover loosely with cling film, leave it to rise for a couple of hours.
For some reason this dough is a champion riser, it’s almost magical going back into the kitchen to see how much the dough has grown and Baby Gourmand is always mesmerised by it. You are looking for the dough to have tripled in size.
Put the cling film covering the bowl to one side and knock back the dough as gently as possible and turn out on to an oiled work surface. Divide the dough into three even portions, I usually let Baby Gourmand do this and as you can see by the photograph they are not even at all but he’s learning and I’m confident that one day his 3 sections will be perfect.
Squeeze your 3 pieces of dough together at one end and start folding the sides towards the centre to form your plait, again I let Baby Gourmand do this as his reward for being so
Place the plaited loaf on a lined baking tray, cover loosely again with the same oiled cling film as before, and set it aside to rise. Once the plait has at least doubled in size but not so large that it spills from the baking sheet brush gently all over with a little egg wash, and pop into an oven at 180 and bake it for 25 minutes until the crust is a dark brown colour and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath. Cool on a wire rack.
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