Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sally Lunn

This was apparently named for a bread-seller in the 18th century, which just goes to show you how very nice the bread is, I think.

One important thing to note is that while this bread is pretty much effortless, it takes a LONG time to make (although you'll only be fussing with it in small spurts). If you want to have it with supper tonight, start making it right after lunch. Okay? Okay.

1 cup milk or cream or evaporated milk or a mix of any of the three
8 tbsp butter, cubed
1 package active dry yeast
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
3 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

In a small saucepan, add the milk and the butter. Stir over low heat until the butter is melted, and then pour into a large bowl. Let it cool until it's lukewarm and add the yeast, sugar and salt - stir and then leave it be for five minutes. The yeast should be all dissolved.

Add the eggs, one by one, stirring briskly after each. Add the flour - a cup at a time - and stir briskly again until the batter is lovely and very smooth. Cover the bowl and leave your dough alone someplace warm for about three hours - it should double in size.

Now you have a decision to make - do you want to make an impressive loaf of bread or smaller, muffin-sized buns? Butter a tube pan (a 10" one) or 24 muffin cups. Beat the dough again to deflate it, then pour it into the tube pan or spoon into the muffin cups (about half full). Butter your hands and smooth the dough down evenly and smoothly. Cover loosely with a towel and let rise for another hour.

Preheat your oven to 375.

If you're using the tube pan, you should bake your bread for about 50 minutes. If you're making the small buns, you should bake your bread for about 20 minutes, turning your pan mid-way. When they're baked, let them cool on a rack.