Basic Sweet Bread

Basic Sweet Bread

Makes 2 loaves.
By Dennis W. Viau; modified from a blender recipe.

This “basic” recipe can be made on its own for a delicious and tender bread, or be enhanced with cinnamon, nutmeg, or with dried fruit added. It would also be a good dough to use when making cinnamon rolls or other buns. Although the recipe is prepared in a blender, you can make this bread by hand.

Ingredients:

5½ cups (27 oz./765g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt (I prefer 2 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons (1 oz./28g) butter
1 packet (or 1 tablespoon) active dry yeast
1 Vitamin C tablet
2 strips fresh lemon peel
2 strips fresh orange peel
2 tablespoons sugar (or 1 tablespoon honey)
½ cup (1½ oz./43g) instant powdered milk
2 large eggs
1¾ cups (~400ml) warm water
For an egg wash:
1 egg, beaten well
2 tablespoons milk
½ cup (2 oz./57g) sliced almonds

Directions:

Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Combine. Add the butter and, using your fingers, rub it into the flour mixture until distributed, about 2 minutes.

Place the yeast, Vitamin C tablet, lemon peel, orange peel, sugar (or honey), powdered milk, 2 eggs, and water in the jar of a blender. Blend about 20 seconds. Transfer to the flour mixture.

To prepare by hand, zest half the lemon and orange and use a spoon and bowl to crush the tablet to a powder. Combine the yeast, Vitamin C powder, lemon zest, orange zest, sugar (or honey), powdered milk, 2 eggs, and water in a bowl and blend with a whisk. Then add this mixture to the flour mixture.

Combine to form a moist and slightly sticky dough, adjusting the flour or liquid as necessary to get the desired consistency. Knead until smooth, about 5 minutes.

Grease a large bowl with butter and place the dough inside. Grease the top of the dough, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Punch the dough down and divide in half. Shape two loaves, arranging on a greased (or lined with parchment paper) baking sheet. Combine the remaining egg and the milk to make an egg wash. Using a pastry brush, coat the top of each loaf with egg wash and then garnish the top with sliced almonds. Lightly cover with plastic wrap and let rise 30 to 45 minutes, until doubled.

Heat the oven to 375°F (190°C) with a rack in the center.

Bake the loaves 30 to 35 minutes until golden and they produce a hollow sound when thumped (or to an internal temperature of around 195°F (91°C). Note: For a glossier and darker loaf, you can brush the loaves a second time with egg wash before baking.

Transfer the loaves to a wire rack and cool thoroughly before slicing.