Nothing is more comforting than the smell of a batch cooking. And what about the joy of biting into the crunchy crust and soft crumb? This classic bread is as exquisite as it is simple to make.
1 bag of 8 g (approx. 2 1/2 teaspoons) of traditional active dry yeast
3 tablespoons of sugar, or honey
750 ml (3 cups), lukewarm (41 to 46°C/105 to 115°F) milk
1,875 ml (7 1/2 cups) + a little for kneading all-purpose flour
4 1/2 teaspoons of salt
80 ml (1/3 cup) unsalted butter
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the yeast with the sugar and warm milk. Let stand for 10 minutes or until slightly foamy. In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt.
2. Using a stand mixer with a flat whisk, mix the yeast mixture at low speed for 1 minute. Gradually incorporate the flour without stopping beating until the mixture is homogeneous, about 2 minutes. Replace the flat whisk with a kneading hook. Add butter and knead at medium-slow speed for 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and continue kneading for 4 minutes – be careful, as the base may move on the work surface. Remove the hook. Cover the bowl with a damp dishcloth (do not use terry cloth). Allow to stand at room temperature until the dough has doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Spray 2 23 cm X 13 cm (9″ X 5″) loaf pans with oil.
3. Remove cloth from bowl and sprinkle top of dough with flour. Flour a work surface and transfer the dough to it. Beat and knead it for 1 minute, then divide it into 2 equal parts and sprinkle each with a little flour. Fold the sides of each part towards the center and shape into a log shape. Place a log in each mould, with the dough joint facing down. Cover the pans with a damp cloth and let stand at room temperature until the dough has doubled in volume, 50 to 60 minutes. (The dough is ready when it does not quickly return to its shape when tapped with a finger).
Approximately 15 minutes before the dough is due to rest, preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F).
4. Bake the loaves in the center of the oven until the crust is hard and dark golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes – loosely cover with aluminum foil halfway through baking.