There is something about the yeasty smell of baking bread that makes my mouth drool. Growing up my mother made it on occasion and usually told us kids to stay out of it till it cooled. There were times she forgot and I cut it in time to slather on some butter and watch it melt into a tasty treat. Funny thing is every single time she saw what I had done her response was always “well, since you already cut into it, I may as well have a piece too”. Sometimes I suspect she “forgot” to tell us on purpose.
Forging into the world of bread making can be a little scary, there are so many rules to follow. The rewards are worth it I believe. The trick is to start with a recipe that is so simple and easy it is hard to mess up. That is where the Sally Lunn bread enters the scene. Believed to have been created in 17th century England, it is a sweet bread that is great served hot at the dinner table and requires absolutely no kneading
1 pkg (or) 2 1/4 tsp Yeast
1/4 c warm Water 110 to 115 degrees
1/2 c Butter softened
1/4 c Sugar
3 Eggs at room temperature
1 c warm Milk 110 to 115 degrees
1/4 c warm Honey
5 1/2 to 6 1/2 c Flour
2 tsp Salt
large angel food pan
TIME: Prep 10 minutes; Rise 2 hours; Bake 30 minutes
In a small bowl combine the water and yeast with a little bit of the sugar. Allow to set until you know it has proofed. This is evident by the foam you will see on top of the water. If it has not proofed, do not use it. The yeast is either old or the water was not the correct temperature.
In a mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the milk and honey. A trick to getting honey out of a measuring cup is to first spray the cup with a little oil. Then when you pour the honey in it won’t stick but will slide right out. The proofed yeast is next. Combine the salt with the flour and then slowly add it to the bowl. One way to do this is to measure the flour onto a bendable cutting board or parchment paper. This allows you to keep the mixer running while you slowly add the flour. Doing it slowly prevents lumps and allows you to keep an eye on the dough.
Depending on how dry the flour is and the humidity level, you may not need all the flour called for in the recipe. Whenever making bread you start with less than the minimum amount specified. Add a little at a time, thoroughly incorporating it into the dough before adding more. One can always add more, you cannot take it out. You want a nice soft ball that is pulling away from the edges of the bowl. It can be a little hard to get there with a mixer so when I know it is close, I prefer to finish it by hand. You can feel when it is ready because it is no longer sticky. Then I form a ball and place the seam on the bottom when the dough goes back in the bowl. Cover, place in a warm place and allow to rise till doubled, about an hour.
Once it has doubled, punch it down (removing half of the air) and remove from the bowl. Your pan should be greased and floured to prevent sticking. Make sure you get the tube in the middle! Stretch the dough so that you can wrap it around the center tube of the pan until the ends meet and you can pinch them together. Smooth it down so that it is even all the way around. Cover again, place in a warm place and allow to double for another hour.
Bake at 400 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes on the middle rack. An old trick to determine doneness is to flick bread. If it sounds hallow it is ready to pull out.
It looks lovely on a buffet table and guest can slice off pieces as thick as they like.
I am sure you won’t be surprised to learn I slap butter on while it is nice and hot.
Let me know how it goes.