Do you like butter? I do. I really, really do. And this bread? Its got a ton of butter. Its almost obnoxious.
(*1/18/2011 I played around with this recipe and scaled it to a more home kitchen friendly size.)
3/4 c milk, warm
1.5 oz yeast (I prefer fresh yeast, hands down. But, it’s expensive and hard to get sometimes. So regular active dry will work perfectly fine if that is what you have.)1/3 c sugar
Place milk in a saucepan and add sugar. Heat until warm, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle yeast over the top and let proof until bubbly, about 7 minutes (I usually stir it about halfway through to make sure it all proofs).
2 whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk (reserve the white for washing)
Add eggs and mix with yeast and milk.
3 c flour (I use half unbleached all purpose and half bread flour to get a nicer crumb… but it works pretty well using just straight AP flour. If you do use all AP, you can always add a tablespoon or so of wheat gluten to help with texture.)
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
Add to yeast mixture and mix with paddle until dough comes together.
8 oz butter, softened and cut into small pieces.
Add to mixer one piece at a time. Paddle until dough is smooth and shiny and the gluten is well developed. (How do you know when the gluten is well developed? First, the dough should come away from the sides of the bowl and begin to climb the paddle. Second, pinch a small amount off the dough off and roll into a flattened disc. Now gently stretch it. If you can stretch it out tissue thin without breaking it, its ready. If you can’t, keep going.)
At this point your dough just needs to rest and rise. If you want to eat it that day, simply place it into an oiled bowl, cover and let rise until doubled (about 40 minutes, this stuff works fast!) then punch it down, shape it, let it rise again, wash (egg white and water for a shiny crust, milk for a tender crust) and bake @ 350 until golden brown.
Now, I’m a big fan of the slow, cool rise. (Hold on, my inner baker nerd is about to come out big time…) An overnight rise means complex flavor. And texture. It means the dough will just hang out in your fridge, going through a whole bunch of chemical changes that ultimately mean less work for you and a serious return on your finished product. With an enriched dough like this? Not exactly crucial, but it will take your bread to a whole different level. So. Oil up some (big) bowls. Put your dough in, cover and pop it in the fridge. In the morning, or whenever you are ready, pull it out. When you lift the cover off, it will probably deflate on its own. Perfect! Leave it out at room temp for 20 minutes or so. Then shape, let rise, wash and bake.