As we learn to cope with a global pandemic and this “new normal,” an unexpected hobby has gained popularity: bread making. It’s so popular there’s a nationwide yeast shortage.
I gave in to the hype and tried recreating Kindred’s famous milk bread (full recipe below). It’s inspired by traditional Japanese milk bread but with a southern twist.
“Nothing is more comforting than warm bread,” says Katy Kindred, co-owner of the Davidson Restaurant. “It tells the story of the close connection of cultures, through food, so well. A story we try to tell in our food as your meal progresses.”
Kindred, which the Agenda ranked the No. 1 best restaurant in the Charlotte area, usually serves the bread as a starter. While restaurants are closed, you can still get it with butter for $5 by ordering curbside pickup.
Overall, this is a pretty easy recipe to follow. I was a first-time bread maker and was nervous about documenting my first go, but it was easier than expected. Here’s how it went:
(1) Shop for ingredients, but good luck finding yeast
Before you prep ingredients or pull out your mixer, the first step is actually finding active dry yeast. This is not easy.
I visited seven stores (seven!) and all of them were sold out of yeast. I even tried stores in different neighborhoods to see if the bread making trend was exclusive to certain zip codes. It is not.
This recipe calls for three packets of yeast. In the end, I got two packets of yeast from a coworker (thanks, Ted!) and one from my mom.
If you’re trying to make bread either order yeast online far in advance or try Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen. The restaurant and cooking classroom is giving away yeast with certain family meals.
(2) Make substitutions if you forget something
In the midst of my search for yeast, I forgot Kosher salt. I ended up using regular salt, and it didn’t seem to cause any problems.
Since bread making is so popular right now, bread flour is also tricky to find. I found it at grocery store number three. If you can’t find it, most bakers seem to agree that all purpose flour is a fine substitute.
(3) But don’t skimp on the good stuff
The recipe calls for a mild honey and suggests wildflower or alfalfa. I’d never used these before and didn’t expect them to be so expensive, but I’m glad I stuck to the recipe here. I drizzled the wildflower honey over the bread once it was done, and it was delicious — less sweet than regular honey with some floral notes.
(4) Follow the recipe, but make modifications if needed
I mostly followed the recipe exactly. The first few steps involve making a roux-like mixture and then adding in dry ingredients. It’s pretty straightforward.
Note: The flour is prone to clumping even if you whisk vigorously. I went back through a few times with a spoon looking for clumps and broke them up by pressing them against the sides of the pot. The flour also clumped when I added the roux to the other dry ingredients. So even though the recipe doesn’t call for it, I’d suggest sifting the flour.
(5) Mom knows best
My mom, a very experienced bread maker, did supervise. Most of the areas where I deviated from the recipe involved her strong suggestions.
At one point she told me to let the bread rise on the stove next to a pot of boiling water. I told her the recipe only called for a “warm, draft-free place.”
She gave me a look and said, “I’ve been doing this for a long time.” So we went with the stove and the dough still rose, although it did take a little longer to double in size than the one-hour suggestion. However, the second rise went much quicker.
(6) Baking the bread
Once it was time to bake the dough, it started to brown on top a little faster than I would’ve liked. So, my mom suggested putting foil on top of the bread to keep it from browning further while the bottom kept cooking. This helped.
I made two loaves and they baked in about 40 minutes, the recipe suggests 50 to 60 minutes. (These baking discrepancies probably just depend on the type of oven you’re using.)
(7) The final reveal
After letting the bread cool for about 10 minutes and taking pictures, I was more than ready to dig in.
And though it’s a little dark on top, it is light and fluffy inside with a nice buttery flavor.
I’m not sure if bread making will stay part of my post-quarantine routine (especially given the yeast shortage), but it was a fun experience and yielded tasty results.
Here’s the full recipe, courtesy of Kindred:
5 1/3 cups bread flour, divided, plus more for surface (Kindred uses King Arthur)
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup mild honey (such as wildflower or alfalfa)
3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder (such as Alba)
2 tablespoons active dry yeast (from about 3 envelopes)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
3 large eggs, divided
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Flaky sea salt (optional)
Cook 1/3 cup flour and 1 cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until a thick paste forms (almost like a roux but looser), about 5 minutes. Add cream and honey and cook, whisking to blend, until honey dissolves.
Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and add milk powder, yeast, kosher salt, 2 eggs, and 5 remaining cups flour. Knead on medium speed until dough is smooth, about 5 minutes. Add butter, a piece at a time, fully incorporating into dough before adding the next piece, until dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic, about 4 minutes.
Coat a large bowl with nonstick spray and transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
If making rolls, lightly coat a 6-cup jumbo muffin pan with nonstick spray. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and divide into 6 pieces. Divide each piece into 4 smaller pieces (you should have 24 total). They don’t need to be exact; just eyeball it. Place 4 pieces of dough side-by-side in each muffin cup.
If making loaves, lightly coat two 9- by 5-inch loaf pans with nonstick spray. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and divide into 12 pieces. Nestle pieces side-by-side to create 2 rows down length of each pan.
If making split-top buns, lightly coat two 9- by 13-inch baking dishes with nonstick spray. Divide dough into 12 pieces and shape each into a 4-inch long log. Place 6 logs in a row down length of each dish.
Let shaped dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size (dough should be just puffing over top of pan), about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375° F. Beat remaining egg with 1 teaspoon. water in a small bowl to blend. Brush top of dough with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt, if desired.
Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until bread is deep golden brown, starting to pull away from the sides of the pan, and is baked through, 25 to 35 minutes for rolls, 50 to 60 minutes for loaf, or 30 to 40 minutes for buns. If making buns, slice each bun down the middle deep enough to create a split-top. Let milk bread cool slightly in pan on a wire rack before turning out; let cool completely.