I originally posted this six years ago. Recently however, I overhauled it to make it even better with a softer crumb and a longer shelf life. Yeast doughs have always been a favorite of mine, and I continue to learn how to make them better and pass that on to you.
Fall is synonymous with baking and sweet breads are always a favorite. This recipe has several more modern methods of making.
Basic Sweet Yeast Dough
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces (60 grams or 2 ounces)
¼ cup honey
¼ cup potato flakes (14 grams or ½ ounce)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 package active dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons, 7 grams or ¼ ounce)
¼ cup water (90 to 100 degrees)
3 cups bread flour (454 grams or 1 pound)
Heat milk to simmering. Remove from the heat and add the butter; stir until melted. Add the honey and potato flakes. Whisk all together. Let cool to lukewarm.
In the meantime, break the egg into the mixing bowl, add the vanilla and whisk to blend completely. I just use a hand whisk here. Add the milk mixture when cooled to lukewarm.
Dissolve the yeast in the water and add it to the liquid in the mixing bowl.Fit the mixer with a dough hook. Add the flour and salt all at once and mix on medium until it forms a dough; continue mixing to knead the dough for 3 more minutes. The dough will clean the side of bowl.The dough will be very soft and may more like a batter; this is as it should be. Do not add additional flour. Spray a bowl at least twice the size of the yeast dough with cooking spray. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in the bowl and spray the top lightly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, mark the time on it and let rise for 1 ½ to 2 hours in a wam place or until doubled in bulk.
Punch the dough down and reshape into a ball. At this point the dough can be used immediately or it can be punched down and refrigerated up to 2 days before using. The dough will probably rise again in the refrigerator; punch down, cover the surface tightly and directly with film. Then cover the bowl itself with film. Use when cold.
Food Processor Version – A slight change in the way the dough is put together gets the job done in a matter of minutes. All of the ingredients remain the same. However, the butter should stay very cold and be cut into about 8 pieces. Keep in the refrigerator until needed. Continue as in above recipe omitting the butter in the hot milk but keeping everything else the same. Cool the mixture completely. Add the egg and dissolved yeast.
Place the flour and salt in the food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse 3 or 4 times to mix. Place the cold butter in a circle over the flour and process until it is so finely cut in it is indistinguishable. With the machine running, pour the liquid mixture down the feed tube; process until mixed. Process for 1 minute to knead. Remove the dough and knead 10 to 15 times by hand to smooth out. Place in a sprayed bowl and continue as directed.
Cinnamon Raisin Bread
¾ cup packed brown sugar (150 grams)
2 tablespoons cinnamon
¾ cup raisins
3 tablespoons butter, melted (45 grams or 1 ½ ounces)
1 recipe Basic Sweet Yeast Bread, above
2 teaspoon butter, melted, optional
Spray a 9x5 loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment. Spray the parchment. Set aside.
Divide the brown sugar into two bowls (75 grams or 2 ½ ounces each) and mix thoroughly with 1 tablespoon cinnamon each. Set aside.
Divide the dough in half (about 445 grams so just short of a pound each). Roll one piece into a 11x14 inch rectangle. Brush with half the butter and spread half the sugar/cinnamon and sprinkle with half the raisins. Roll tightly from the short end. Pinch the edges together and also the ends. Place in the refrigerator while you repeat this with the rest of the ingredients.
Place the two rolls next to each other and pinch the top edges together. Twist the two rolls together and pinch the ends together. Place in the pan. Flatten the roll to fill out the pan. Cover with a towel
and let rise for 1 to 1 ½ hours until doubled.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until the top is deeply brown and the loaf sounds hollow when thumped. You can also use a thermometer to make sure it is 180 degrees inside. Tent the top lightly if it is browning too much.
Brush the top with the 2 teaspoons of butter if desired. Cool in the pan for about 30 minutes, release and cool on a rack completely.
This freezes well. Wrap well to freeze.