I think this is the most wonderful bread in the world. My dear friend Jan re-created it from bits of a recipe used by her grandmother (who never wrote it down) and lots of trial and error AND adapted it so it could be prepared in a bread machine. It is delicious and rich. It will go straight to your waistline or hips or wherever you store carbs, so you probably will want to save it for special occasions. Alternately, you can make it fresh every day and limit yourself to one slice…if you have more willpower than I do. In my family, this seldom gets cooled before it is sliced and consumed.
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cube butter
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 5 tsp yeast
- 1 egg
- 5 1/2 cups flour
Combine the first 6 ingredients and allow to sit until it is foamy. This takes a different amount of time depending on where you are and what the weather is like.
Add the egg and then kneed it all into the flour. Let it rest and rise in a nice warm, breeze-free location: like inside the oven with only the light turned on. Once it has about doubled in bulk, punch it down and place it in a loaf pan. I like a stoneware loaf pan, but any will do. You can also just put it on a cookie sheet for a free-form loaf. Cover it and let it rise again.
Bake it at 350°F for about 35 minutes. The crust should be nicely brown and sound hollow when thumped.
Let it cool on a wire rack. The longer you let it cool, the easier it will be to slice. If you want to use it for sandwiches, you will just have to let it cool. We like to wait until we can just barely stand to touch it, then slice it in nice thick slabs, and put butter on it…watching the butter dissolve rapidly into the hot bread…and then devour.
IF YOU’RE USING A BREAD MACHINE: you can put everything in the machine in this order (be aware that different machines use different quantities, though, so you may have to adjust…) and then either let the machine bake it or you can take it out after the 1st rising and put it in your own pans for the 2nd rise.
In the unlikely event that any of this survives the day and gets hard, slice it into cubes. Drizzle the cubes with melted butter and garlic and then bake them at 350 degrees Farenheit until dry. Once cool, you can store these in an air-tight container at room temperature and use them as croutons…assuming THESE survive the cooling process.