Barefoot Contessa’s Honey White Bread

I’ve never made bread from scratch before. Oh, sure, I’ve made quick breads before, but I’m talking real bread, as in YEAST bread.

After getting my new mixer I knew that at some point I would have to get over my fear and just tackle the fearsome yeast bread.

I adore watching the Barefoot Contessa’s show (although I rarely do; it’s on at such an inconvenient time). I just find Ina so soothing- I want to just curl up and let her describe the luscious food she’s fixing for a little get-together and then once it’s all ready I’ll finally get out of the cozy chair I’m in and make my way outside to the beautifully arranged table where Ina graciously presides over stimulating conversation. Perhaps the fact that I pretty much only ever manage to watch her show when I’m home sick from work might have something to do with the fact that I end up going off on such detailed mental tangents.

Anyway, that very long aside is to explain how I ended up picking my very first bread recipe – it’s Ina’s! From her book Barefoot Contessa at Home, she says it’s foolproof. And since I don’t know what I’m doing, I think that’s the sort of recipe I need.

Her instructions were very easy for me to follow, and the recipe was nice and simple. I was worried about the milk temperature but I’d inherited my grandmother’s old thermometer (emphasis on OLD) and microwaved the milk until it seemed warm and then stuck the thermometer in and it went right to 110. I was astonished at my temperature-guessing prowess.

(Later of course, I found out that I shouldn’t have been so astonished because I noticed that the thermometer was still reading 110, so I put it in some cold tap water. 110. Then I put it in some boiling water. Still 110. I think the thermometer’s time has come and I need to buy a new one.)

Fortunately, questionable milk temperature aside, it apparently wasn’t so hot it burned the yeast and wasn’t so cold that it didn’t get them revved up because the recipe came together beautifully.

The mixer made it incredibly easy, and the hardest part was not cutting into the bread immediately after pulling it from the oven – it just smelled so good! It made a great snack, was good toasted with butter, and made terrific sandwich bread.

It was definitely a winner, and if it wasn’t July and ridiculously hot here I’d have already made it again. Once the weather cools off to say, below 75, I will.

Fresh from the oven