I am not a baker. I think I had kind of a rough time with the Easy Bake oven circa 1995 and my ideal version of dessert is Funfetti icing eaten directly out of the jar with a spoon. Growing up in an Italian family, my entire concept of food was built around salt. I would rather eat an entire ball of bufala mozzeralla and half a pound of prosciutto after a meal than be bothered with something coated in a layer of artisanal sugar and melted Valrhona.
Despite all of this, I’ve recently discovered the hidden joy of baking bread (really just the smell of it permeating through all 300 square feet of my apartment). I could also talk about my love for all things carbohydrate but that would be a post so long there would be no more Internet left.
Enter my take on the Barefoot Contessa’s honey bread which manages to satisfy the craving for salt and oil, every olfactory sense, and my rampant Hamptons-philia all in one go. Like with any time-tested, tried and true recipe, I immediately had to mess with it. By replacing butter with olive oil and extra sugar with orange blossom honey, this bread took on more of a Mediterranean vibe. Paired with Smitten Kitchen’s take on Balthazar’s Cream of Mushroom soup (made in the Sixth Borough! har har), it proved to be the perfect combination for weather in Philadelphia currently mirroring that of Antarctica.
I am also eternally grateful that this recipe calls for dry yeast after being forever scarred by a foodie friend describing the “wet” yeast used in Tartine’s cookbooks as “something you have to grow, feed and look after…like a pet.”
-Yields One Loaf-
¼ cup of warm water (~45 seconds in microwave)
1 package dry (thank god) yeast
½ teaspoon sugar
¾ cup of warm whole milk (~45 seconds in microwave)
3 tablespoons of butter (melted and cooled)
1 tablespoon orange blossom honey (I even bought local, guys)
1 egg yolk
2 ½ – 3 cups all-purpose white flour
3 teaspoons of kosher salt
1 egg white (beaten)
Coat all pans/bowls/yourself with olive oil instead of butter