If I had to pick my favorite Christmas gift (aside from the new tires for my car) it would be this book BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts. There are so many things I want to try in this book, but my first test was this homemade Wonder Bread. I love homemade bread. The process, the smell, the fresh out of the oven consumption, but have had very little luck with decent sandwich bread. Usually it comes out dense and doughy and the flavor is just not quite right. But this version, while easier in some ways and a little more hands on in others, was literally perfect. I have never been as excited for a bread as I was making this. I used it for lunch, for toast in the morning, to eat just because it was there and so was the butter. The magic is clearly in the ingredients…. I mean Ovaltine… I have never used this stuff before. I literally think of A Christmas Story every time I hear it mentioned. But the malt gives an extra sweetness to the bread. The instructions are also written out so well. Often when I’m trying something new, I like to have pictures to follow so I can make sure that I’m doing it right, but the writing is so helpful in this book, that you really know what your dough is supposed to look like and how it’s all supposed to come together. I would highly recommend this book and this bread is an absolutely must for carb lovers out there.
Homemade Wonder Bread
Hot Water Roux
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup milk any percentage
- 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1/3 cup malted milk powder like Ovaltine
- 2 tsp instant dry yeast not rapid-rise
- 1 ½ tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt half as much if iodized
- ¾ cup whole milk
- ¼ cup refined or virgin coconut oil
Note: Bubble-gum-test: Chop off a walnut sized lump of dough and toll it into a ball. With both hands, slowly stretch and rotate the dough in all directions, pulling it int o a translucent sheet. Keep stretching! If the dough tears in half, return it to the bowl, knead 5 more minutes, then test again. If the dough forms an irregularly shaped hole, knead 3 minutes more and test again. If it stretches like bubble fun and “pops” a round hole, it’s ready.
Make the roux:
Sift the flour into a 2-qt stainless steel saucier. Put the flour into a measuring cup and level with a knife before sifting. Add the milk, stirring with a flexible spatula until smooth and cook over medium heat, stirring to form a thick mashed potato like paste, about 2 minutes. Set aside and cool to 120 degrees (about 15 minutes).
Make the dough:
Sift flour into the bowl of a standing mixer, using the same technique to level the flour before sifting. Add sugar, malted milk powder, yeast, salt, milk, coconut oil, and roux. Stir to combine, then knead on low with the dough hook until the dough can pass the bubble-gum-test, about 12 minutes. Remove dough hook and cover with plastic and prepare a warm place for the dough to rise. I agree with the recommendation to microwave a mug of water until boiling-hot, then push it to the back of the microwave so it continues to radiate heat and steam – especially if you are making bread in the winter! Let the dough rise inside until puffy and light, though not doubled in size. About 30 minutes (note mine took more like an hour 15 minutes).
With a flour-dusted fingertip, gently press the dough. If it springs back, let rise about 15 minutes. If it feels firm but retains a shallow impression, it’s ready to shape.
Shape the loaf:
Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat to 350 degreed F. Lightly grease a 8×5 inch metal loaf pan.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into an 8 inch square. Fold into thirds, as you would a (thick and chubby) business letter, then fold lengthwise to create a narrow log, pinching the dough along its seam. Nestle it into the pan, seam side down, and loosely cover with plastic wrap.
Warm the microwave as you did before and let the dough rise about 25 minutes, until it crowns the pan. Use your fingertip to test it again. Allow to rise only if it sprints back when you poke it. If it retains a shallow impression, it’s ready!
Bake the loaf until the crust is nutty brown, about 45 minutes, or 200 degrees. I highly recommend checking the temperature with a thermometer. Carefully top the bread onto a wire rack and remove the pan. Turn it upright and let cool for at least 1 hour before you even think of slicing it. It will severely deform if cut too soon.
The loaf will be extraordinarily soft on the first day, but after 24 hours, it can be easily cut into thin slices with a serrated knife. Sore in an airtight container for up to 1 weeks at room temperature, up to 2 weeks in the fridge.