At 1.50am, this was how the bread looked for the first proof.
At 2.52am, this was how the bread looked after being shaped and proofed for the second time.
I tuck the bread to bake in the oven at 3am and then woke up to take it out at 3.50am and went back to bed. Guess who came out to check the bread on the table in the morning?
At 6.50am, my princess woke up and went to the table and said: "Wow! Smells nice." Please excuse my uneven shaping, it was 2am in the morning!
Here's a close up.
This is the closest I have ever got to a soft bread. I am not really happy with the crust as I find it too thick and tough for my taste. I love the soft interior and the rich flavour of it, but I am sure that there is something more to be done in the taste department.
This bread has a very sticky dough and I was really glad that I have read Dough and watched Mr. Richard Bertinet skillfully handling a similar dough. I had to really resist the urge to reach for the flour. So I was thumped the dough as best as I could. After a good 25 mins, my aching arms protested. I reached for the flour, and to my surprise, I only used a small amount to end the sticky affair. Trust the professionals.
Milk Bread (adapted from Joy of Cooking '97 ed.)
6gm instant yeast
3tbsp warm 40degC water
1 cup of warm 40degC whole milk
5 tbsp (71gm) melted butter, cooled
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 large egg, beaten
Combine all the above in a mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly. Gradually, all in 3.5 - 4 cups bread flour. The dough should be soft but not sticking to the sides of the mixing bowl. Turn it out onto the floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Round it into a ball and leave it in a lightly floured bowl for the first proofing. About 1 to 1.5hrs or until double in size.
Deflate the dough and divide it into 2. Roll each dough into a tight ball and place it in a lightly oiled loaf tin. Let the dough proof for another 1 to 1.5hrs or until double in size.
Bake in preheated oven of 190degC for 40mins.