Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Soft White Bread (for fans of the bread at County Line BBQ)

I love bread.  In fact, I love it so much,  that, if the bread is good enough, I might just go out for barbecue in Austin, Texas and come home raving not about the succulent ribs or the moist brisket, but about the delicious fresh bread served with honey butter.  Yes.  I am that person.  And yes, that has actually happened.

About four or five years ago, I went to County Line for the first time.  I remember that I ordered ribs and that I enjoyed them, but the memory that really sticks with me until today is that of their fluffy warm white bread slathered with honey butter.  I loved that bread so much that whenever I found myself there, I always made sure to order it.  And now, after having been out of Texas for over a year, I still wistfully think about that bread every now and then.  It has been too long.  Or rather, it had been too long, that is, until last Sunday.

This past weekend,  I finally dug up a recipe for similar bread online and it turned out to be the best loaf of white bread I have ever made.  It was soft, with a nice chewy crust.  It also rose very nicely, producing a nice tall loaf.  As for its likeness to the bread at County Line?  Well, it is a winner.  This bread is very similar to the bread they serve.  It has that same soft texture and not-so-subtly sweet flavor.  So,  while I can't see using this bread as a sandwich bread, it is wonderful slathered in butter and I imagine that, once the loaf has had a little time to age, that it would make a wonderful French toast.   I am also certain that it would be delicious with nutella.  I haven't tried it, but I would place money on it.

Note:  This recipe contains shortening.  I usually don't make recipes containing shortening, but I happened to have some on hand and wanted to make this recipe as written.  I will try making this recipe with butter and will update this post to let you know whether or not the results are the same.  I might also see about reducing the sugar to make a slightly healthier version of this.

Soft White Bread
1 9 x 5 loaf
Instructional details added to recipe originally published by the Austin American Statesman

2 tbsp warm water
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup warm water
1 tsp. salt

  1. Whisk yeast, 2 tbsp of water, and 1/2 tsp sugar together and let it sit for 15 minutes.
  2. Pour yeast mixture into a large bowl.  Add the rest of the water and sugar along with the shortening, flour, and salt.  Using a hand mixer, beat the ingredients together on low until thoroughly combined.
  3. Put dough in a lightly greased bowl.  Flip it over so that both sides have oil on them.  Cover with a clean, slightly damp cloth and put it in a warm spot to rise for approximately two hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  4. Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with shortening.  Punch the dough down to eliminate any bubbles.  Form it into a loaf and place it in the pan.  Cover it again with the same cloth and let it rise until the dough is taller than the pan (approximately 2 hours again).
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake for approximately thirty minutes, or until the bread sounds hollow when you lightly tap it.

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