Starlight's Bread

Joined Dec 4, 2001
OK Starlight, here goes.
This comes to us courtesy of Beth Hensperger from her book, Baking Bread: Old and New Traditions

White Bread with Poppy Seeds


1 packet of active dry yeast
pinch of sugar
3/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 1/2 cups warm milk (about 110 degrees)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature and cut into pieces
2 1/2 tsp salt
5 to 5 1/2 cups bread flour
1 egg yolk and a tablespoon of milk or cream for an egg wash
poppy seeds


In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water for about 10 minutes until it gets foamy.
In a large bowl, mix the milk, butter, salt, the yeast mixture and about 2 cups of the flour.
Whisk to a smooth paste.
Using a wooden spoon, add the remaining flour 1/2 a cup at a time until a shaggy dough forms that clears the side of the bowl. (You may not need all the flour. It should clear the sides of the bowl but not be too dry.)
Turn the dough out on to a flour dusted work surface and knead it until it is smooth and satiny. Add more flour a tablespoon at a time if the dough sticks to your hands or the board.
Place the dough in a lightly buttered medium bowl, turning to coat the top side of the dough with butter.
Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise until it is doubled in volume. About 1 to 1 1/2 hours depending on the temperature in your kitchen.
Gently deflate the dough and place it on a lightly floured work surface.
Divide the dough into two pieces.
Form each piece into rounds and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Or place each piece into 9" by 5" loaf tins. (Or do one of each.)
Cover loosly with plastic wrap and let rise a second time until doubled in volume, about 35 to 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees at least 20 minutes before baking.
Beat together the egg yolk and milk/cream and gently brush it over the loaves.
Sprinkle with the poppy seeds.
Bake in the center of the oven for about 40 to 45 minutes.
Remove the bread from the loaf tins and cool completely on a rack before cutting and serving.

Bon Appetit!

If you don't have a thermometer to measure the water and milk temperature (110 degrees), stick your finger in it. It should feel luke warm like a baby's formula. Yeast dies at 140 degrees and that's about as hot as the human body can stand. So if your finger is scalded, it's too hot, otherwise there is a lot of leeway.
Use unbleached flour because it tastes better.
If you look on the side panel of the bag of flour at the nutritional information, you will see an entry at the bottom of the list showing the protein content. 3 grams is all purpose flour, 4 grams is bread flour and 5 grams is high gluten flour. For bread making use the flour with at least 4g of protein.
Greasing the dough and the bowl for the first rise prevents a skin from forming and allows the dough to stretch unhindered.
If you don't have a pastry brush, use the corner of a paper towel to brush the egg wash over the loaves.
If I'm telling you what you already know, forgive my arrogance.

Joined May 6, 2001
Feel free to post any questions you have while making the bread-we have a pretty fast response time on this website (Such wonderful members:D-like Jock ) So if you run into any problems we can help. has a few streaming video clips that might help you. On the main page there is a menu on the left, click on "cooking 101" and then scroll to find the appropriate video. I think they have two:kneading dough and shaping a boule (round). might have similar clips as well.

Good Luck!:bounce:
Joined Feb 9, 2002
You're all just the best!

Hi everyone - sorry it took me so long to respond - I crashed and had to do everything - the complete system restore. So I've been swamped downloading and trying to keep up with everything else.

Anyway, you all do have a fast response time and I sure appreciate that! This truly is a great place to chit chat about food. I don't mean to keep gushing all the time, but I've been treated pretty rude in other cooking communities and that always stuns me - I always think these things are for enjoying the sharing of ideas etc...???:rolleyes:

Moving on, that recipe sounds wonderful and I am going to print that and hopefully give it a try very soon. I'm going grocery shopping tomorrow and will pick up the yeast and I think, to be safe, I'll pick up a thermometer as well. I've always wanted one but it's one of those things you think of whenever you're cooking at home - (and your hands are full so you can't write it down) and when you're in the store it doesn't pop in your head even if you walk past them a dozen times! least that's how it is with me.

I'm sure my first experience with this will be interesting! AS careful as I do try to be, I'm also an expert at making some major goof ups everytime I do something for the first time. The other day I was making my dad some sugar free muffiins and I put them in the oven - without the oven turned on. Then I stood there scratching my head wondering why they were so raw...
DUH!:p It took a few seconds and I realized the oven wasn't warm...then it clicks. And then, of course, the muffins barely rose so they were all flat...sigh.

I guess I should have been born blond, huh! (Blonds - I'm just teasing).

Jock, thank you so very much for taking the time to do this. I promise to post an update when I give this a go! Wish me luck!
Joined Feb 9, 2002
Forgot - I wanted to tell you, no forgivness necessary! I'd rather re-learn (or be reminded of) something I may know than never learn it in the first place and furthermore, I know this took some time and I so appreciate that - I could never see it as arrogance.

Blessings, Jock! :)
Joined Dec 4, 2001
You're very welcome.
I will be holding my breath waiting to hear how your bread turned out so you'd better be quick before I expire. :)
Once you've done a couple of these you will be so jazzed you won't want to stop. I thought I knew a bit about bread making until I recently bought a book called The Bread Maker's Apprentice. I made some foccacia this week end and I thought I had died and gone to heaven it was so good. I did a pizza dough last week that has ruined my family for any other kind of pizza.
I just love making bread. :bounce: :bounce: :bounce:

Joined Feb 9, 2002
So will I!! :)

I hope to try it this weekend and will certainly let you know! I'm a little worried about my ability, but I'll never know unless I try.

Also, I think the right person saw my question - those breads you're making sound wonderful!! I bet I'd never want to go back to goopy white store-bought bread if I can do this right!
Joined Mar 17, 2001
Hey Starlight, how did it go?
I'm interested because I've tried to make bread a few times and never quite been happy with the results.

I wonder how Jock's ingredients would work in British measures (by weight). I've got some American cup measures but I'm always a bit nervous in case I've packed the flour too tight.

one thing I've always wondered - how do you guys measure a cup of butter? Doesn't that mean spending ages trying to paste butter into a cup measure? Do people bother to measure it accurately?

I'd be interested to know because I've got quite a lot of American recipes but I rarely dare to try them for this reason.

I hope the bread is a useful exercise, Starlight, and I even hope it might have been a success - but I'd love to find out the end of the story either way!
Joined May 6, 2001
Butter comes in a package of 4 sticks that equals 1 pound. Each stick of butter is 1/2 cup. The wax or foil paper wrapped around each stick is marked by teapoons and tablespoons and listings of common partial cup measurements are given(1/4 cup =4 tablespoons, 5 1/3 tablespoons=1/3 cup, etc.).
Joined Apr 19, 2001
Dear Plum - ? re "pack the flour too tight"----------never, never, never, pack the flour!! Scoop it lightly into the measuring cup, and scrape off evenly with a knife, or use a weight measurement, but never pack it into the measuring cup!!!
Joined Dec 4, 2001
Plum, 1 1/2 cups of liquid is about 375mL (so 3/4 cup would be about 190mL give or take.)
As Svadhisthana says, a stick of butter is 1/4lb (113g.) This recipe calls for unsalted butter. A stick of regular butter can have as much as 1/2 tsp of salt so if you are using that instead of unsalted, reduce the ammount of salt accordingly.
And follow Marmalady's advice - never pack the cup measure with flour. A cup of flour by weight will vary slightly depending on how you "scoop and level". (Scoop the flour and use the back of a knife to scrape off the excess.) But, a rule of thumb would be about 4.5 oz (130g) flour per cup.
In this recipe I wouldn't be too concerned with the exact ammount flour. It will vary slightly depending on how fresh it is and what it's moisture content is amongst other things. You add flour till it feels right (not sticking to your hands when you knead it but no dry either.)
Watch out for the yeast too. Active dry yeast here is packaged in 1/4 oz (7g) sachets. I made a batch of pizza dough at my sister's house in Essex once using this ammount and it was much more potent. It is better to use a little less yeast and allow a longer rise time until you can find the right quantity with your yeast.
Give it a go, what have you got to loose? As I said to Starlite, at worst you're out a couple of quid's worth of ingredients. (How many Euros is that?
:D )

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