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Simple. Milk. Loaf.

Simple is good.  Milk is grand.  Loaves are glorious.  Is it any wonder that I took a shine to this bread?  Sure, it's a simple white loaf, but  in my extensive book there's a time and a place for all types of bread- from a toasted American cheesefood sammich on plain ol' white to a tangy, herbed goat cheese sandwich with slow-roasted heirloom tomatoes with peppery greens on grilled whole grain, seeded bread.  Me likey the bread in all forms.  And to be completely honest, my oldest (who turns into a teenager today, by the did the last thirteen years go!?) still pulls his protest placards out from the slim space between his bed and dresser when I withhold simple white bread for too long.

Simple Milk Loaf
Artisan Bread Bakers Bread of the Month
makes 1 loaf

½ tsp. instant yeast
12 oz. whole milk, at room temp. + extra for brushing
¾ oz. golden or maple syrup
9 oz. plain white flour (all purpose)
9 oz. strong white flour (bread)
1¼ tsp. fine sea salt
1 oz. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
olive oil, for greasing
flour, for dusting

I used the simple mixing method
1. Simple mixing method: place all ingredients in bowl of mixer. Mix with dough hook until it comes together in a shaggy mass. Cover the bowl and allow dough to rest for ten minutes. Mix on low for ten seconds. Cover bowl and allow to rest for ten minutes. Continue with step 6.

2. Traditional mixing method: Place the yeast, milk and syrup into a large bowl and whisk together.

3. Add the flour and salt and mix with your hands to bring together as a soft, sticky dough.

4. Pour over the warm melted butter and mix this into the dough with your hands, then cover the bowl and leave to stand for ten minutes.

5. Grease your hands and a flat clean surface with olive oil. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead for ten seconds, then form the dough into a smooth round ball. Wipe the bowl clean and grease with olive oil, then return the dough ball to the bowl and leave for a further ten minutes.

6. Repeat this ten-second kneading and resting ten minutes process two more times, then leave the dough to rest for 30 minutes.

7. Grease a deep 5"x8" loaf tin and dust with flour. Divide the dough into two equal pieces, shape into two balls and place side-by-side into the loaf tin. Cover with a cloth and let rise for 1½ hours, or until almost doubled in height. Mine didn't rise too much during this period.  Preheat the oven to 410° F during last 15 minutes or so of rising.

8. Brush the top of the loaf with a little warm milk and place into the preheated oven.
 Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350° F and bake for a further 30-35 minutes, or until the top of the loaf is a shiny dark brown and the loaf has come away from the sides of the tin.  My loaf got amazing oven spring! I was worried when it didn't rise too much, but I needn't have been.
9. Remove from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.
In the interest of peaceful, protest-free birthdays...I have a loaf of Simple Milk Bread gracing the toaster for breakfast this morning.
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*Artisan Bread Bakers: BOM