I love bread and I love the aroma of fresh bread coming out the oven. What inspire me to make homemade bread for my son is because I don't like the smell of the bread sold in the supermarket and when I check the ingredients, I understand why.
There are a few bakeries selling great bread at higher price (than supermarket bread), which is still my go-to-bakery when I am not in the mood of baking. They are my benchmark and source of inspiration for me to make a better bread.
I have tried a number of recipes and tweak them and finally settle with this recipe. My son has always been the judge, who can be hard to please :-)
2 and 3/4 cup bread flour
2 tsp instant yeast (= 6 grams), I use SAF instant yeast
1 tsp salt
1 and 1/2 tbsp caster sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup fresh milk (full cream)
30 gram unsalted butter
1) Combine 1 and 1/2 cup bread flour, instant yeast, salt, and sugar in a big bowl of a stand mixer and stir until mixed.
2) Combine water, milk, and butter in a small saucepan and heat it until it is warm. The butter wouldn't melt completely. Be careful not to overheat it. I measure the temperature using a thermometer, it should be at 47 to 48 degree celcius. If it is too hot, the yeast will not work and the same goes if it is not warm enough.
3) Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients in the big bowl and beat it for 2 minutes at medium speed.
4) Add the remaining flour (1 and 1/4 cup) and beat at medium speed for another 2 minutes. You may start with low speed to avoid the flour to fly everywhere then slowly increase it to medium speed.
5) Continue to beat the dough in a stand mixer at medium / high speed for another 8 minutes, until a smooth dough is formed.
6) Cover with wet towel and let the dough rest for 20 minutes. The dough will be bigger after resting, around 1.5 times.
7) Take the dough out from the bowl and put it on the surface lightly dusted with flour. Roll it into a roughly 20 cm x 30 cm rectangle using a rolling pin. Roll up tightly starting from the short end of the rectangle. Place it in a loaf pan sized 10 cm x 22 cm that has been lightly greased with butter. Cover with wet towel and let it rest for 45 minutes. The size will be double.
8) In the last 20 minutes, heat the oven to 200 degree celcius. Once proofed, bake in the oven for 23-25 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven and allow them to cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.
1) I have tried using quite a few type of bread flour and even tried to use all purpose flour (plain flour) instead of bread flour. The Japanese bread flour (Haruyutaka by Tomiz, made in Hokkaido) seems to give the best result, texture and taste wise. But the price is 3 times of other bread flour. All purpose flour still gives nice taste but it doesn't rise as much as the bread flour. It is good to know that in case your kitchen runs out of Bread Flour, you can still make the bread with the all purpose flour (plain flour).
2) Hokkaido fresh milk gives creamier taste as compared to Australian fresh milk. I personally like it better but my son find it too creamy. He prefers the Australian fresh milk.
3) Different brand of yeast seems to give different taste and so far I am happy with SAF instant.
4) Today, I added about 1/3 cup of chocolate chip (Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips) just before rolling it. After baking, they melt a bit but the Chocolate Chip Bread taste really good. My son really loves it! Next time, I may want to try to put raisins instead of chocolate chips.
5) This recipe is good for sandwich, I usually make a ham and cheese sandwich or a salami sandwich using this bread. But for adult, I suspect it is best to reduce the sugar to only 1 tbsp or even less. You can do the experiment yourself and adjust the recipe as needed.
6) I use stand mixer to help with the kneading, but if you don't have one you can use your hands. I have done that a few times and it works fine too. It is just that you need to knead a bit more than 8 minutes.