As much as I like to cook and bake, I must confess that I tend to keep an ill-stocked refrigerator and pantry. I do, however, always seem to have yogurt in the fridge and I keep flour and a couple packages of yeast in the pantry. Salt is a staple for me, as is honey. With those ingredients, I have what I need to make Honey Yogurt Bread.
I came up with this recipe when I was craving a soft-crusted bread to eat with some butter and jam, and didn't have any milk or eggs to make brioche. It isn't as buttery and light as brioche, but it does have some richness to it because of the yogurt. It also has a sweetness from the honey, but the tang from the yogurt keeps it from being overpowering. The texture of the crust and interior is soft, with a bit of "chew", but it is not cottony like some store-bought sandwich breads tend to be. Great for sandwiches, french toast or just buttered, and enjoyed with some fruit preserves.
Honey Yogurt Bread
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup warm water (110F)
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon kosher salt
~6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
In a large glass bowl, combine warm water and 1 tablespoon of honey. Sprinkle yeast over the honey water and allow to sit for 5 minutes, or until yeast is foamy. With a wooden spoon, stir in 2 cups of flour and mix very well. Allow to sit for 5 minutes so that the flour can absorb the liquid. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons honey, yogurt, salt and another 2 cups of flour and beat the dough with the spoon for a couple of minutes. Add another 1 1/2 cups of flour. Transfer dough to floured surface and knead for 10-12 minutes, adding the remaining 1/2 cup of flour only if dough is too sticky.
Lightly grease a clean bowl with oil. Place dough in bowl, turning to coat surface with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, around 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
Turn risen dough out onto floured surface and knead for about a minute to remove air bubbles. Form dough into a ball and allow to rest, covered, for 15 minutes. Grease two 9"x5" loaf pans (or four mini 6"x3" pans).
Divide dough in half (quarters for mini loaves) and roll or pat each piece into about a 12"x10" rectangle (9"x7" for mini loaves). Starting at the shorter edge, tightly roll dough up, jelly roll style, pressing the seam and the ends well to seal. Place loaves seam side down in the prepared pans. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 - 1 1/2 hours.
Place oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 400F. Slash the top of each loaf lengthwise. Bake for 25 - 35 minutes (depends on size of loaves), until loaves are golden brown. Remove from pans and allow to cool on wire racks.
Makes 2 regular loaves or 4 mini loaves.
You can freeze the baked loaves. Wrap cooled loaves tightly in plastic wrap, and then in aluminum foil before placing in freezer. Thaw loaves in refrigerator.
I like to eat this bread with "Trader Joe's Cherry Preserves made with Fresh Cherries" (the apricot version is quite good too). Also, the bread makes really good curried chicken salad sandwiches.
Oh! I don't usually eat my bread with *that* much butter on it. For photographical purposes only!