This dough is usually made with milk to give a slightly richer, softer texture. However, water will work just about as well: there is enough additional enrichment in the form of egg, butter, and sugar to make the difference between milk and water fairly slight. Proportionally more butter, sugar, and egg are used than in the bun dough given at the beginning of this chapter. For the same reasons as for the bun dough, an initial ferment is required to condition the yeast before the main dough is mixed.
Dissolve the sugar and yeast in the milk or water and then beat in the flour to make a soft paste. Leave the ferment covered in a warm place until it has risen to its full extent and dropped. This should take about an hour, depending on the temperature.
Festive Bread Dough
Stir the sugar into the flours, then add the egg and the ferment. Work into a dough, knead for a minute to begin developing the gluten, then add the butter. Knead energetically for about 10 minutes by hand (5 minutes in a mixer). Do not be tempted to add extra flour: the dough should be very soft and quite sticky. It will firm up as it ferments. Cover loosely with a plastic bag and leave in a warm place to rise for about an hour. Then turn the dough out onto the work surface and add any spices, fruits, or nuts that are called for.
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This page created November 2009
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