Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Fritz's Bread

I don't know if any of you read Rex Stout. He writes mystery stories featuring a detective named Nero Wolfe. Wolfe likes his home comfortable with an orchid greenhouse on the roof and a gourmet chef in the kitchen. The chef is named Fritz Brenner. His meals are the subject of many pages in the books. Stout got together with a food writer named Sheila Hibben to create a cookbook of dishes mentioned in the book. One of the entries is a bread recipe. It makes a very nice loaf of bread which is wonderful with butter, jam or in a sandwich. The recipe in the book is for two loaves. I used half the recipe but I think I should have used the whole thing. The loaf pan I have is larger than average (9x5) so my loaf is a little short (I used to have a smaller pan but it was lost). But still very tasty.

Fritz's Bread

2 cups milk
2 Tbs sugar
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbs butter, softened
1 package instant yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1/4 cup warm water
6 cups sifted all purpose flour

Heat the milk until scalded. When bubbles have formed around the edges take it off the heat and stir in the sugar, salt, and butter. Let this cool until it is just tepid (110 degrees or so). Dissolve the yeast in the water then add to the milk mixture. Stir this into the flour. If you are using a mixer with a dough hook start on low speed and increase to low medium to knead until smooth and elastic, about 5-7 minutes. If kneading by hand this will take about 10 minutes. Shape into a round and place into a lightly greased bowl turning it once so the top gets coated with oil. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch it down and let rise again for an hour. After second rise divide the dough in half and shape each piece into a rectangle and place in a greased loaf pan. Cover and allow to rise a third time until doubled in bulk, 1-1 1/2 hours (keeping the dough in a warm place will speed up the rising time). Preheat the oven to 400 degrees for at least 20 minutes. Just before baking brush top of the loaf with a little melted butter (I omitted this step so I got a crustier top). Bake for 40-45 minutes (less if in a bigger pan). If the top browns too quickly cover with aluminum foil.
Eat bread warm. Try not to devour the entire loaf at once.

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