Recipes / Rich Golden Bread, 8 Ways

Rich Golden Bread, 8 Ways

By Mark Bittman

Published December 18, 2023

A rich, versatile dough that yields a golden crumb and shiny crust. This bread goes from sandwich loaf to Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Bread with just a few simple tweaks. And the add-in possibilities are endless.

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Rich Golden Bread, 8 Ways

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Makes 1 (huge) or 2 medium round loaves 1x

Time at least 3 hours, largely unattended

Units Scale

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter
  • 2 eggs
  • About 1 cup milk, lukewarm
  • Softened butter for greasing
  • Melted butter for brushing

Instructions

1. Combine the flour, yeast, salt, sugar, and cold butter in a food processor. Pulse the machine on and off until the butter is evenly distributed in the flour but not completely blended in. Add the eggs and pulse a few more times.

2. With the machine running, slowly add 3/4 cup of the milk through the feed tube. Process for about 30 seconds, adding more milk if necessary, a little at a time, until the mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch. If it is too dry, add another tablespoon or two of milk and process for another 10 seconds. In the unlikely event that the mixture is too sticky, add flour, a tablespoon at a time.

3. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead it a bit by hand. (Now’s the time to add extra ingredients to the dough if you like; simply knead them in until well incorporated.) Form a smooth, round dough ball, put it in a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap; let rise until the dough doubles in size, 1 to 2 hours. (You can cut this rising time short if you are in a hurry, or you can let the dough rise more slowly, for up to 6 or 8 hours, in the refrigerator. At this point, you may also wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for up to a month; thaw in a covered bowl in the refrigerator or at room temperature.)

4. When the dough is ready, divide it into 2 pieces if you like or leave whole; roll each piece into a round ball. Put each ball on lightly floured surface, sprinkle with a little flour, and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rest until the dough puffs slightly, about 20 minutes.

5. Pinch the bottom of the ball(s) to seal the seam as well as you can. Butter 1 or 2 shallow baking dishes or cake pans that will comfortably hold the loaves; they should not (yet) quite fill the pans. Cover and let rise for at least an hour and preferably longer, up to 2 hours. It’s okay if the dough rises over the sides of the pans a bit.

6. Heat the oven to 350°F and set a rack in the middle. Brush the top of the loaf or loaves with melted butter. Bake for about 40 minutes for one loaf (check at 25 minutes for 2 loaves), until the crust is golden brown and the internal temperature of the bread reaches 210°F on a quick-read thermometer. Immediately turn the breads out of their dishes or pans and cool on a rack. When ready to serve, cut with a serrated knife — the bread will be rich and delicate.

— Recipe from How to Bake Everything

Recipe variations

Rich Golden Rolls
Slightly crisp on the outside, airy on the inside: In Step 4, instead of shaping the dough into 1 or 2 loaves, keep dividing it in half until you have 16 medium or 24 small balls, then shape them into rolls (see illustration below). Grease a couple of baking sheets or line them with parchment paper. Put the rolls on the sheets, a couple inches apart, cover, and let rise for about 1 hour. Proceed with the recipe, baking for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the rolls.

Rich Golden Sandwich Bread
In Step 5, instead of greasing the baking dishes or cake pans, grease a 9 × 5-inch loaf pan. Shape the dough into a sandwich loaf (see illustration below). Proceed with the recipe, adding about 5 minutes to the baking time.

Saffron Fruit-and-Nut Bread
Like a fancy holiday bread, with less work: In Step 1, add a large pinch of saffron threads to the flour mixture before running the food processor. While the dough is rising for the first time, put 1 cup dried fruit — like golden raisins, cherries, cranberries, chopped apricots, or a mix — in a small bowl; heat 1/2 cup brandy, rum, or apple juice, pour it over the fruit, and let the fruit soak for about 30 minutes, then drain well. Roughly chop 1/2 cup almonds, pecans, or walnuts. In Step 3, knead in the fruit and nuts.

Cocoa Swirl Bread
Not too sweet, but definitely chocolaty: Follow the directions for the Rich Golden Sandwich Bread variation. While the dough is rising for the first time, mix together 1/4 cup cocoa powder and 1/2 cup sugar. In Step 5, after you have shaped the dough into a rectangle but before you finish shaping it into a loaf, sprinkle the cocoa mixture evenly over the dough. Wet your hands and shake a few drops of water over all (or spray lightly with a water bottle if you have one; or use milk); use a fork to rub the cocoa and water into the dough a bit; it should be a light paste. Finish shaping the dough into a sandwich loaf (see illustration above), fit it into the prepared loaf pan, and bake as directed.

Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Bread Follow the preceding variation, substituting 3 tablespoons cinnamon for the cocoa powder. After rubbing the cinnamon-sugar paste into the dough, sprinkle 1/2 cup raisins over the top and proceed.

Poppy Seed Swirl Bread
An Old World treat made easy with prepared prune (dried plum) spread, which should be available in your supermarket: Follow the variation for Cocoa Swirl Bread, only instead of a cocoa- sugar mixture, combine 3/4 cup prune spread with 1/4 cup poppy seeds; spread over the rectangle of dough (no need to add any water).

Braided Rich Golden Bread
Like challah but easier: In Step 4, shape the dough into one large ball. In Step 5, divide the dough into 3 pieces; roll each piece into a rope about 14 inches long and 1 inch thick. Braid them on a lightly greased baking sheet, as illustrated below. Right before baking, brush with egg wash if you like, and sprinkle with poppy seeds (also optional). Proceed with the recipe; reduce the rising time to about 1 hour and the baking time to 30 to 35 minutes.