Honey Bread

from the kitchen of Chef Paul Prudhomme

Makes 3 loaves

ingredients
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon honey, in all
1 cup hot water (105 to 115)
3 packages dry yeast
About 5-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, in all
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup evaporated milk
3 tablespoons pork lard, chicken fat or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
how to prepare

In a medium-size bowl stir 1 tablespoon of the honey into the water until dissolved.  Stir in the yeast and let sit until yeast granules are totally dissolved, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, sift 4-1/2 cups of the flour and the salt into a large bowl.  Set aside.

In a 2-quart saucepan bring the milk, lard and butter to a boil over high heat, stirring once or twice; reduce heat to very low and cook until reduced to 1 cup, about 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir the hot liquid into the flour.  Add the yeast mixture and beat with a spoon until well missed, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup honey.  Continue mixing with a spoon or by hand until mixture forms a moist dough, about 5 minutes.

Place the dough on a well-floured surface.  Knead until smooth and elastic to the touch, about 10 minutes, adding only enough additional flour (up to about 1 cup) to keep dough from sticking.  Place in a large greased bowl and then invert dough so top is greased; cover with a dry towel and let stand in a warm place (90o to 100o) until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.  (Place in a slightly warmer place if dough hasn't doubled in 1 hour.)

Punch down dough and knead on a floured surface for 2 minutes.  Divide into 3 equal portions and form each into a loaf, stretching the top and tucking edges under to form as smooth a surface as possible; pop any large air bubbles by pinching them.  Place in 2 greased 8-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch loaf pans.  Cover with a towel again and let rinse until almost doubled in size, about 45 minutes.  Bake at 350o until done (see Lagniappe), about 40 minutes, rotating the pans after 25 minutes for more even browning.  Remove from pan immediately.  Let cool on a wire rack about 1 hour before slicing.

Lagniappe:  To test doneness, carefully remove one loaf from pan; bottom should be evenly golden brown, and when bottom and sides are gently squeezed they should spring back into place.  In high-humidity areas, store in paper bags or bread box (instead of airtight containers) so the bread can breathe.

Copyright © 1984 by Paul Prudhomme