Contessa Bread

06bContessaBreadSlicedbfLOOK, so, technically, this is a recipe for honey white bread from Ina Garten, the barefoot contessa, but I like the name ‘Contessa Bread,’ and the resulting two loaves (make note of that) make for a nice slice, as-is or toasted, grilled, or mebbe even dipped in some batter and lightly fried à la pain perdu.

My bread pans are a bit larger than the 9×5’s the contessa specified in her recipe (from Barefoot Contessa at Home, by the way), so that may be why my finished loaves are a bit, ermmm, squat. They still tasted fine.

•1/2 cup warm (110º) water
•4-1/2 tsp (2 pkg) dry yeast
•1 tsp sugar
•1-1/2 cup warm (110º) whole milk
01bYeast5MinutesbfLO•6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter,
melted and cooled
•1-1/2 tbsp honey
•2 extra-large egg yolks (I used large)
•5 cups + flour
•1 tbsp kosher salt – I used coarse sea salt
•Olive oil and/or additional butter
•1 egg white, lightly beaten

Stir the yeast and the sugar into the warm water in the bowl of an electric mixer and let rest for five or ten minutes, until the yeast has dissolved and the mixture is foamy.

Add the warm milk, cooled melted butter, and the honey, and mix, using the dough hook attachment, on medium speed until blended.

03aDoughKneadbfLOAdd the egg yolks, three cups of the flour, and the salt and mix on low speed for five minutes.

With the mixer running, add the remaining two cups of flour.

Turn the mixer speed to medium and add additional flour (tablespoon measures work best for me) just until the dough no longer sticks to the side of the bowl. I ended up 04aDoughRisebfLOadding another 1/2 cup or so in all, but depending on the day, you might could need to add as much as one additional cup of flour to make it work.

Knead the dough on medium speed for nine minutes, then pull it out, lightly coat the (mostly) clean-sided mixing bowl with olive oil (the contessa uses butter), shape the now smooth and elastic dough into a ball, and place back into the bowl, turning the dough ball so that all sides are lightly coated with oil (or butter).

04bDoughRisenbfLOCover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap (the contessa uses a damp towel, but I like plastic wrap for this bit) and set aside in a warm spot for an hour or so, until the dough has doubled in size.

Why, yes, yes it has. You might want to take note of the volume of this dough. If you don’t choose to use the (mostly) clean-sided mixing bowl for rising, be certain to use the largest, tallest bowl you have on hand, ’cause this stuff goes big.

05aDoughBreadPansbfLOLightly grease two loaf pans with softened butter (or olive oil, but I went with butter at this point).

Divide the risen dough in half (which will basically take care of any ‘punching down’ you feel needs to happen at this point), then roll into two loaves – I more or less ‘shaped’ mine into loaves and fitted them into the prepared pans.

05bDoughPansRisenbfLOCover the pans with a damp kitchen towel (for this bit I went with the towel), and set aside to rise for another hour, until the dough has once again risen to double its size.

After the dough has been rising for 30 minutes, heat your oven to 350º.

Once the dough has finished rising, lightly brush the top of each loaf with the egg white, then pop them both into the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped.

06aContessaBreadBakedbfLOTurn the bread out onto a wire rack and cool completely before slicing.

OK, I cheated and sliced a wee, tiny bit off one end while it was still warm, I mean, who can resist fresh-from-the-oven-still-warm bread with a bit of butter?

Nice bread, and the two loaves means you have enough to share.

I just need to go out and buy two slightly smaller loaf pans for my next try…

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