Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Adapted from "The Bread Bible: 300 Favorite Recipes" by Beth Hensperger

Time: 2 hours 15 minutes, plus rising time

12/3 cups instant nonfat dried milk

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon salt

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons active dry yeast

Pinch of sugar

10 cardamom pods

12 cups (approximately) unbleached all-purpose flour or bread flour

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon milk

Butter for greasing pans.

1. Bring a pot of water to boil. In a very large bowl whisk together 4 cups boiling water, the dried milk, 4 tablespoons butter, salt and 1 cup sugar. Continue whisking until butter melts; let stand until lukewarm.

2. Pour 1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees) into a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast and the pinch of sugar over surface. Stir to dissolve, and let stand at room temperature until foamy, about 10 minutes. Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods, and crush with a rolling pin on a piece of wax paper. Set aside.

3. Add 4 cups of the flour, the cardamom and the yeast mixture to the milk and butter mixture. Beat hard with a whisk until smooth and creamy. Switch to a wooden spoon, and add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft, shaggy dough forms, one that clears the sides of the bowl is formed.

4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead until the dough is smooth and resilient to the touch but not dry, 5 to 8 minutes, dusting with flour 1 tablespoon at a time as needed.

5. Place the dough in a greased deep bowl. Turn once, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

6. Gently deflate the dough by pressing it with your fist. Turn it out onto a floured work surface. Grease four 9-by-5-inch loaf pans. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Shape each portions into rectangular loaves and place in pans. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise until 1 inch above the rim of the pans, about 40 minutes.

7. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and milk. With a serrated knife, slash the tops of the loaves decoratively (but no more than 1/4 inch deep.) Brush the tops with the egg and milk mixture. Place the pans on the center rack of oven, and bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until loaves are brown and sound hollow when tapped with your finger. Transfer the loaves immediately to a cooling rack.
Yield: 4 loaves.

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