And another thing….

February 13, 2010

Suicide by butter. And worth every damn fat gram, too.

Is this a thing of beauty, or what?

The Lee Brothers and their Sally Lunn bread recipe are back in my good graces. Those boys just can’t tell time, that’s all.

And just in case that first gorgeous looking slab of bread wasn’t enough….here’s a close-up of the crumb:

WARM bread. Melting butter. Screw this "thou beside me singing" crap.

The Lee boys’ recipe, as slightly amended by me:

  • 1 stick butter, softened, divided
  • 1/4 cup honey or sorghum molasses
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup half-and-half (it called for whole milk, but mine had gone bad; I had plenty of half and half)
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt

Heat half-and-half over medium heat to 105 degrees (or a little past lukewarm, if you don’t have a candy thermometer). Remove from heat, stir yeast into milk and let sit for 5-10 minutes, until it bubbles all over the surface. Set aside.

With electric mixer, cream together 7 tablespoons of the butter with the honey until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Sift together flour and salt. Add flour mixture, a cup at a time, to egg/butter mixture, alternating with yeast/cream mixture. Mix well after each addition.

Cover bowl with a dishtowel and allow to rise in a warm place until double in bulk. I turn my oven to 200 when I start heating the milk, turn it off when I commence combining everything, and use that as a spot for the bread to rise. It took about 2 1/2 hours, notwithstanding the non-time-telling Lee Brothers, who contended it would take 35 minutes.

Somebody get them one of those watches with numbers, not hands.

Move the dough to an oiled board and punch down. Fold and punch 30 times. (Their directions were “beat it with your fist 30 times,” and that was how I interpreted those instructions, not seeing much benefit to just whaling at the stuff.) Shape into a loaf and put in a 9 x 5 loaf pan greased with the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Cover with dishtowel again, and allow to rise to even with top of pan. (That took about an hour and a half, not the 12 minutes the Lee boys contended.) Bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes, until golden brown on top.

This makes a dense, almost cake-y like bread, faintly sweet from the honey, but sturdy enough to use for a sandwich. It would be damn hard to beat it still warm from the oven with butter (yes, dammit, more butter) melting on it, but I’m betting it’d make wonderful French toast, something I may just investigate tomorrow.

Whoever ol’ Sally was, she made some good bread. I’m glad she left us her recipe. You and y’mama ‘n ’em try it. Nothing picks you up on a Saturday when you’re in a funk like homemade bread.

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