I have a love/hate relationship with bread, specifically the homemade stuff. I don’t mean the eating and potential weight gain aspect, although I know that many people struggle with this. Frankly, cutting carbs is a great way to take off the pounds. But I think we can all agree that it is not the most enjoyable solution. No bread?? That sounds like a sad, sad life to me. Less carbs, sure. Cutting them out altogether? You might as well throw your diet out the window before you even start.
Anyways, that has nothing to do with my problematic relationship with homemade bread. The issue that I am really trying to get at is the “life expectancy”, shall we say, of freshly baked bread, buns, rolls, etc. Take for example, these brioche buns I made for Thanksgiving dinner over the weekend. I made the dough well in advance, as the recipe described. Then I baked them off the morning we were going to have our turkey dinner. By the time we ate them, 7 or 8 hours later, they were drier than a fish fart in a sand dune. Drier than the freaking Sahara Desert. I mean they tasted good but what the heck?!
I love homemade bread but it seems like the only viable way to serve it is fresh out of the oven. I get that it doesn’t have preservatives that will allow it to sit on the counter unscathed for 5 years (yes Wonderbread, I am talking about you). But is it that unreasonable for it to last a mere 12 hours? I’m not even asking for a full day here!
Does anyone else have this issue? Are there any suggestions from fellow bread bakers? It really confuses me because even when I make the wettest, stickiest dough it still dries out. Even this brioche, it had almost a cup of butter! That much fat should increase the shelf life at least a bit. And as far as I know I’m not over-baking them. I almost err on the side of under-baking them at this point. Oh and I always put them in an airtight bag as soon as they are cool. Perhaps it is the dryness of Calgary’s climate that does my bread in. Who knows??
So I would love to hear from you! What tips and tricks do you use to prolong the life of your homemade bread? Or do you just accept the fact that it will be dry before you know it and opt to eat it ASAP? Hopefully we can try to understand this little bread dilemma!
Adapted from Anna Olson
¾ cup warm milk
2 tbsp. yeast
¼ cup white sugar
½ tsp. salt
4 cups all purpose flour
¾ cup butter, softened
1 egg beaten with a splash of water (egg wash)
1. Mix together the warm milk, yeast, sugar, eggs and salt.
2. Add the flour and butter, kneading until smooth and elastic (8-10 minutes). The dough will be sticky so if you want to do this in a mixer with the dough hook attachment, go for it. If you are doing it by hand, you may have to add a bit more flour as needed so that it doesn’t stick all over the place.
3. Place the kneaded dough in a well-oiled bowl, covered and allow it to rise for 30 minutes.
4. Punch the dough down and place it in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours but up to 24.
5. After the dough has risen in the fridge, remove it and divide it into equal portions (between 12-15 of them). Roll the dough into round buns, making small rotations with the palms of your hands as you press the rolls gently into the countertop.
6. To make the traditional brioche shape, take your rounded rolls and form them into a pear or tear-drop shape. To do this, roll one end of the bun between the palms of your hands to make it slightly skinnier than the other. Poke a whole in the middle of the thicker portion and tuck the skinnier bit through it, making a little knob on top.
7. Place the shaped brioche buns in greased muffin tins or on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Cover and allow them to rise for about an hour or until doubled.
8. Brush the top of the brioche buns with egg wash. Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes.
9. Cool slightly before removing the brioche buns from their tins. They are best served the day they are made but can be frozen for up to 2 months.