"Pan, barrel, cobb, bloomer, brown, batch, granary, rolled, basket, milk—all names of beautiful breads that you will find in any Irish market or bakery on any given day, and all names of breads that baffled me upon moving to Ireland.
Milk bread in particular piqued my curiosity. After rooting around for a few weeks, I discovered the farm’s recipe for old-fashioned milk bread and couldn’t wait to give it a try. I adjusted some measurements, added more milk, and used bread flour instead of all-purpose, and out came the softest, whitest loaf this side of the snow-capped Alps."
- Grease a 9-inch loaf pan; set aside
- Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and dry yeast.
- Heat half of the water and all of the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until lukewarm. Stir the warm milk into the dry ingredients. Use your hands to mix the dough until it comes away cleanly from the sides of the bowl.
- Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour, and turn out the dough. Knead for about 10 minutes, until velvety smooth and elastic. Alternatively, you can use a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook for 7 minutes. Roll the dough into an oblong shape that will fit snugly in your loaf pan.
- Put the dough in the pan, and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Put the pan in a warm, draft-free place and let rise for 30 minutes, until the dough has risen to the top of the tin.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F (220°C).
- Discard the plastic wrap, and lightly dust the top of the loaf with flour. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the top of the bread is golden brown.
Scullery Notes: Let the bread cool in the pan for 20 minutes—but no longer. Turn it out of the pan; wrap in a clean tea towel so the crust stays soft, but the loaf doesn’t get soggy on the bottom.
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