Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Polish Sweet Bread (Chleb Drozdzowy)

I know, I just posted an almost final version of this bread, but since then, it's been nagging me. The color was off, and the taste wasn't quite what I was looking for. And the crust was too light.

I figured that an additional egg would correct the color, but of course the extra moisture would throw everything else off, so there was more tweaking to be done.

And although the previous bread was good as its own enitity, it wasn't a complete recreation of the original. So it was back to the kitchen one more time, A few more tweaks, and this version got an enthusiastic "oh yeah" from my primary taste tester.

Since raisins were never part of the finished bread that Babcia made, I eliminated it as an option in this final version.

\Babcia Bread
AKA Polish Sweet Bread
(Chleb Drozdzowy)

1 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) yeast
3 3/4 cups AP flour, divided
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla

Put milk and butter into microwave-safe container and heat to melt the butter. The milk shouldn't boil, it should be just warm enough to melt the butter. Cool (if needed) to lukewarm.

Put the liquid mixture into the bowl of your stand mixer, add the yeast and 1 cup of flour, and mix well.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for 15 minutes. It will rise a bit during this time.

Add eggs, and beat with the paddle attachment until well combined. Add salt, sugar and vanilla and beat well. Add 2 3/4 cups of flour, mix with the paddle to combine, then switch to the dough hook and knead well.

During kneading, the dough will begin sticking to the sides of the bowl and building up, until very little is left on the hook. Stop the mixer and scrape it down as this happens. It may take several times before the dough gives up on this sticking.

Eventually, the dough will form a ball around the hook, with just a little "foot" of dough stuck to the bottom of the bowl, but the sides will remain clean.

Keep kneading until the dough is smooth and shiny. It will be a soft dough, but it shouldn't be sticky or goopy at all.

If it is sticky, add additional flour as needed, in small increments. It shouldn't need a lot more flour; this dough seems loose while kneading but holds its shape well after you form it...

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest until doubled in size; it may take 2 hours, or more.

Sprinkle cornmeal on the bottom of a 10-inch loaf pan.

Knead dough again, shape, and put into a bread pan. You shouldn't need any flour to knead or shape this dough. It's not sticky at all.

Let it rise again until doubled in size. Again, It can take a long time to rise. Be patient.

Brush top with beaten egg yolk mixed with water, if desired, for a shiny top. You can slash the top, or leave it as-is.

Bake at 325 degrees for 45-55 minutes, until deeply browned.

Let the loaf cool for five minutes before taking it out of the pan to cool completely on a rack before cutting.

This recipe, along with some of the commentary from the previous recipe, was also published at Serious Eats.