I crave it. Most other people crave sane things, like sweet/salty snacks, ice cream, or the head of their enemies. I crave bread. Always have. In college, the dorm girls would make midnight treks to get Ben and Jerry’s. I would buy a toasted bagel. As a child, I craved it so much that I taught myself how to bake “good bread”. Bread that was crusty and chewy and soft and yeasty. And lovely. It was a different critter from the bags of sliced stuff in the bread drawer. It was mmmmmmbread.
Pane di Latte et Zuccaro
Mix in a cup
1 cup/8 oz/240 grams bathwater temperature (about 110-115) water
1 pkt instant yeast 2 ½ tsp active dry yeast
Let sit for 3-5 minutes. As soon as it’s bubbly looking, make a sponge, or mix together 1 cup (7-8 oz) of the flour and the yeasty mixture. Allow this to rise for about an hour until frothy and resembles primordial soup.
After about 45 minutes of that waiting time, scald (heat until not quite boiling)
1 ½ cup/12 ounces 2% milk
Avoid burning yourself. Remove from heat and add
1- 1½ ounces (2-3 TBS) rosewater, or rum (remind your friend that a shot glass holds 1 ½ ounces.)
1-2 Tbs/ 1 ounce butter
½ cup/ 4 ounces/ (about 122 grams) white sugar
Go check the mail, and feed the dogs. In a bowl, separate 8 eggs to get
8 egg yolks
Beat the egg yolks and save and freeze the whites for a merengue later. Check the temperature of the milk mixture with your little finger. Is it hot to the touch? Let it sit and cool. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, stir to combine
5 cups / 2 3/4 lbs (1200 or so grams) all purpose flour
And 1 Tbs / ½ ounce (16 grams) kosher salt
My friend really loves flour, hehehe
When the milky butter mess is warm but not burning you, temper in the egg yolks. How do you temper, you say? Here’s a good primer: http://www.bhg.com/videos/m/32071602/tempering-eggs.htm
Add the milk mixture to the prepared yeast sponge and mix well (you might want to put this in your stand mixer). Add the flour bit by bit on low speed, remember that you own flour guard, stop what you’re doing and get the guard to that the flour makes less of mess. Use the machine to knead until the dough looks firm (about 5-10 minutes). Use this time to clean the flour you spilled off the dog's head, and put away your ingredients. Now stop the mixer to take a pinch. It should feel smooth and pleasant, and not super sticky. Now put a towel over the entire bowl and stash it somewhere warm for around an hour. The top of the dryer is a good place. After 20 minutes, slap your friend’s hand for peeking, and tell her that yeast only like to ‘do eeet in the dark’ and aren't exhibitionists. After around an hour, the dough should be doubled in size.
Poke the dough in it’s rounded “Buddha belly”. If it leaves an “innie” you’re ready to shape into rolls, twists, braids or whatever.
Here’s a basic braid: take the dough out of the bowl and put it on a lightly floured clean counter. Cut the dough into three equal weight/size sections. Take each sections and embrce your inner 5 year old, you’re gonna make some dough worms. Roll a section with your fingers to make 12-14 inch worms. Lightly coil this and set it to the side while you make two more. When you’re done with making worms, uncoil the sections and place them vertically before you.(you can skip this next part if you know how to braid hair)
**The left section is A, the middle B, and the right section is C. Pinch the last inch or so of all the sections together. Take A and place it over B. Take C and place it over A. From left to right you should have sections B, C, and A. Take the B section and place it over C. Take A and place it over B. Repeat until you only have 2-3 inches of dough left. **
Pinch together the remaining dough sections and tuck in the top and bottom ends under the braid. Pre-heat oven to 375 F. Place on a floured tray , cover with a towel, and allow to rise a second time, about 20-30 minutes . While you’re waiting, beat an egg with 1 Tbs water and put it in the fridge. This is your egg wash. Just before baking, take out the egg wash and brush it on the braid. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the bread is a golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.
Ok, so I cheated, this is a 6-strand braid I did.
Cut a slice, burn your fingers. Shrug it off and smear on butter and jam. Eat, smile, and congratulate your friend for not killing the yeasts.