I stumbled upon a loaf a couple of years back and gave it a try, loved it, asked some friends if they knew what it was (no), then somehow forgot all about it. Then I discovered the farm recipe for an old-fashioned milk bread and couldn’t wait to give it a try. The recipe didn’t work so well, so I adjusted some measurements, added more milk and used strong (baker’s) flour instead of all-purpose (plain) and out came the softest, whitest loaf this side of the snow-capped Alps.
Pan, barrel, cobb, bloomer, brown, batch, granary, rolled, basket, milk. These are all names of beautiful breads that you will find in any Irish market or bakery on any given day. Upon moving to Ireland, milk bread in particular sounded appealing to me.
- 750 g (3 cups) strong white (baker’s) flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- 75 g unsalted butter, cubed
- 7 g sachet (2½ tsp) dried yeast
- 3 tsp caster sugar
- 150 ml water
- 300 ml milk
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Rising time 30 minutes
Cooling time 20 minutes
Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub it in with your fingertips. Add the yeast and sugar.
Add the water to the milk and warm in a saucepan on the stove over medium heat. Stir the warm milk into flour mixture. Use your hands to mix the dough together until both sides of the bowl are clean.
Sprinkle a work surface with the extra flour, then place the dough onto it. Knead the dough until velvety smooth and elastic (or use the dough hook on a stand mixer for 7 minutes). Roll the dough into an oblong shape.
Preheat the oven to 220˚C. Grease a 23 cm-long loaf tin, add the dough, and cover with cling wrap.
Put in a warm place and leave to rise for 30 minutes or until the dough has risen to the top of the tin.
Discard the cling wrap and dust the top with flour. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Cool the bread in the tin for 20 minutes, then promptly remove.
• Do not leave the bread in the tin. Wrap in a tea towel to keep from becoming soggy on the bottom.
Recipe from Farmette by Imen McDonnell, with photographs by Imen McDonnell.
Read our interview with Imen McDonnell and view more recipes by her.