Growing up, bread was Wonder or a loaf of French bread served with spaghetti and all of it was purchased from the grocery store. I didn’t make my own bread until I was an adult and it all started with this recipe for Billowy Off-White Bread with Honey and Sunflower Seeds; an enriched bread with eggs, milk, butter and honey. It is truly OMG good!
When my children were born, I left my job as the Sales Manager for a state Electric Membership Cooperative. To have a few minutes each week to manage errands, I started them in a Mom’s Day Out program once a week when they were each about a year old.
Nothing highly structured but a place for them to practice some social skills and I’ll admit as importantly some time for myself. You know…to get a haircut or get grocery shopping done or even coffee with friends who also brought their kids there.
Why I didn’t think of using that time to pamper myself a bit is beyond me but that was never really my style. I would rather meet a friend and cook than get my nails done…still do!
Lucky to have local honey from The Denver Bee Company!
I met another young mom when my oldest daughter Emily started MDO. Joyce and I were about the same age, our first children were both girls the same age and both named Emily. She immediately became my new best friend; we had so much in common! Probably not just for those reasons but more because we shared a desire to do some things that our peers sometimes chided up about.
We both just loved caring for our young families, were decided homebodies who loved to plants gardens and sew our own clothes, and that certainly included preparing delicious meals. We shared many recipes and meals together with our families. While I might have helped Joyce further some skills too, I will never forget that she supported me through my first attempt to make home baked bread.
This bread. After making this Billowy Off-White Bread I’m not sure I ever needed another recipe. It has always turned out for me and that flavor is simply amazing. Like so amazing that even writing those words makes we want to stop and run to the kitchen for another slice. I love it toasted for breakfast with a bit more butter and honey. No words people, none.
Fast forward a couple of years. Joyce and her husband Brian had a 2nd girl Kate; we had our 2nd girl Lauren and they moved to Binghamton, NY and we eventually lost touch.
I still loved Joyce’s bread the best of any I tried and in one of those things that show just how powerful food memories are; I have never once made this bread without thinking about Joyce and the fun we had together with our girls.
I have to say though that as much as I love homemade bread, I’ve never ‘needed’ those moments of kneading to bring me solace or a sense of purpose. It was part of the job and I loved the end result so you did what you had to do. Some issues with carpal tunnel always reacted to kneading though so I was happy with the advent of bread machines for home cooks.
I never initially thought a bread machine of much value; I hated that the resulting bread looked like it had been made in a coffee can. But luckily, I eventually found a unit that made a normal looking, horizontal loaf in a pan that looked like, if you can believe it…a bread pan. I might have paid a bit more (OK, understatement there) but you know what? I’ve never regretted it.
When I decided to make this bread yesterday, I was reminded of that bread machine I bought all those many years ago. It’s been long gone; I think I gave it away when I moved 6 years ago but I had stopped using it. I’m always trying to find storage space for appliances and try to keep mine to a minimum.
When dough hooks came into use for mixers, the ease was enough that eliminating a huge bread machine from my cabinets was a blessing. Anyone with a stand mixer today can make bread pretty easily as an alternative to kneading it by hand. That’s the part that so many resist and has them stop making bread. Injuries and arthritis should not be an obstacle to bread making!
The ingredients include all-purpose flour, wheat flour, milk, butter, eggs, honey, flour, salt, and yeast; pretty standard items most have on their shelves. Maybe the wheat flour is not a standard item for you and honestly it is not for me either; I was happy to find a small package of it and not have to pop for 5 pounds.
Don’t have it? Don’t worry; I would not spend the time or effort during the current crisis trying to source it either, just use all white flour.
If you have all-purpose flour and no bread flour, no problem, simply use the all purpose. It’s all about the protein difference in the two but both will work fine.
All-purpose flour has between 8 and 11 percent protein, while bread flour contains between 12 to 14 percent. That extra protein in bread flour results in a slightly higher rise, but you’ll still get a good rise with all-purpose flour. Bread flour also produces more gluten. This makes bread just a bit denser and chewier.
If you’re having a problem finding yeast you might enjoy these tweets from a scientist on Twitter that will guide you through making your own. I also found it in one pound packages on Amazon (affiliate link); this product can be frozen and will last for a couple of years. While shipping shows it is out a bit; mine actually shipped the day after I ordered it.
Making it is pretty straightforward too (ingredients and complete directions are in printable recipe card at the bottom of this post):
Dry ingredients, including the yeast, are mixed together. Milk and water are warmed and combined with the warm melted butter and honey and mixed; eggs are added one at a time and blended until incorporated. The dry mixture is added a cup at a time until you achieve a soft dough and then it is either kneaded or mixed with a dough hook until the dough is smooth and elastic. Bread is proofed for about 90 minutes. I’m conservative with my thermostat so my house is not the best for proving so I turn on my oven to the lowest setting, for me, that’s 200 degrees, and let it warm for about 5 minutes. Then I turn if off and if necessary, let some of the air out until the inside of the oven is like a warm and toasty home…that’s my version of a ‘proofing drawer.’ The dough is proofed for 60 minutes, punched down and let go for another 15 minutes and then put into a bread pan that has been coated with butter. I let it proof for another 10 minutes before baking and it’s make a big, beautiful loaf of bread Optional…sprinkle some seeds on top and/or drizzle melted butter over the top when it’s removed from the oven. I know it will be hard but let it cool before slicing it. Yes, I know…patience! Try not to eat it all in one sitting.
It’s slightly sweet, has a terrific crumb and it’s a great texture for sandwiches. I think it most wonderful when toasted and served with some butter and more honey. I was fortunate to have a neighbor gift me with some of their local Denver Bee honey at Christmas; it is so good, I think I was saving it for this Billowy Off White Bread with Sunflower Seeds.
They have an Etsy Shop where they sell individual products and an assortment of gifts too…I bought little gift baskets for my neighbors for the holidays and they were so well received!
As spring is finally starting to peek out of the cold in Colorado, I will get my herbs planted first. I love to make herb butters during the summer and they are fantastic spread on this bread. Heck this bread is fantastic with nothing on it…but go on, indulge. It’s 2020, we’re all stuck at home and if a bit of bread can give us comfort, I say ‘Why not?’
If you are craving bread and not in the mood for using yeast and waiting, I also have a couple of favorite quick bread recipes. Three are quick breads leavened with baking powder or baking soda and one is a beer bread that rises from the yeast in the beer. All are wonderful!
Cinnamon Roll Bread Bananas Foster Banana Bread Date Coffee Cake with Walnuts and Espresso Glaze Coors Beer Bread PIN IT! ‘Billowy Off-White Bread with Honey and Sunflower Seeds’
Yield: Serves 8-10 Billowy Off-White Bread with Honey and Sunflower Seeds Print
The best loaf of bread I've ever made combines both bread flour and wheat flour (the off white!) with milk, honey, and butter in this loaf that is garnished with sunflower seeds.
Prep Time 15 minutes Cook Time 1 hour Additional Time 1 hour 15 minutes Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes Ingredients Wet Ingredients 1 C scalded milk cooled to body temperature 1/4 C lukewarm water 1/4 C melted butter 1/4 C honey 2 eggs - slightly beaten Dry Ingredients 1/2 tsp. salt 3 1/2 C bread flour 1/4 C whole wheat flour 1 1/2 tsp. yeast Melted Butter, sunflower, sesame or poppy seeds for top Instructions In a large bowl combine the flours, salt, and yeast. In a stand mixer on low speed, combine the milk, water, melted butter and honey. Add the eggs one at a time and continue beating gently until thoroughly combined. Add the flour a cup at a time and mix just enough to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic, adding a little more flour as necessary. (Or use the dough hook and your stand mixer which will probably take a couple of minutes less to get that smooth and elastic result). Place dough in a large buttered bowl, turning to butter top. Cover with a clean towel and let rise for about 1 hour in a warm place, free of drafts. Punch dough down; knead until smooth and let stand for 15 minutes longer. Put prepared dough into a large loaf pan. Spread melted butter over top and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds if desired; press the seeds into the dough a bit. Let rise for 10 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes. Top should be a nice golden brown. Bread Machine Instructions: Add all wet ingredients to bottom of bread machine container. Combine all dry ingredients except yeast and evenly pour on top of wet ingredients. Make an indentation in flour and pour yeast into it. (You do not want yeast to make contact with wet ingredients during cycle to warm those up). Setup machine for large loaf with medium color crust. Press GO! Notes
Change up the seeds on top; I've used sunflower, poppy and sesame.
© Creative Culinary Cuisine: American / Category: Breads * Thinking of Joyce and her family and how our girls were each other’s first best friends made me decide to do a quick Google search and see if I could find anything on her present whereabouts. I was saddened to find that she passed away several year ago…much too soon. So this post is dedicated to my friend Joyce Bingham; we may have lost touch but you have never been forgotten. #WinterFavorites #Breads #Bread #ThanksgivingFavorites #SummerFavorites