Amazing Milk Loaf - Possibly The Bounciest Dough Ever

homemade milk loafWell look. I made this.

A monstrosity loaf.

I guess this qualifies for 'show us your baking disasters'. I mean, it wasn't meant to be conjoined, over-flowing and, in one case, (you'll hardly believe this) slightly sunken in the middle.

I was following a recipe for milk loaf.

Hmmm. I suppose when Dan Lepard says to use a large loaf tin, he means A Very Large loaf tin. No, bigger than that, even. I could sort of tell, when I put it in the tin, that I had too much dough but I just went with it, you know? See what happens...

This happened:

And when he says you have to cook it for 50 minutes (FIFTY?!) you'd better believe it. I took one of mine out of the oven after 30 minutes, when it was already nicely browned on top and smelling scrumptious.

It promptly sank. Just deflated, like an under-cooked cake. I hastily popped it back into the oven but it was never quite the same again.

On the plus side, this bread is delicious. I've never seen bread rise like it (as you might have gathered!)

The dough, as I was kneading it, was bouncing about as though it was spring-loaded. The texture of the finished loaf is correspondingly great - light and soft.

The bread tastes ever so slightly sweet which made it brilliant (in my humble opinion) for Marmite (ok, I know, you probably hate it). The children loved it with Nutella and I only wish I hadn't eaten up all the honey last week.

I'll be trying this again, scaled down. And so, just for you, I present:

Milk Loaf - my scaled-down recipe that will (probably*) fit into a 2lb loaf tin, same as all my other loaf recipes.
*I've tried it now, and it does work.

300ml/10 fl oz/1¼ cup whole milk, warmed
80ml/3 fl oz/⅓ cup water
500g/17 oz/3 ⅓cups strong plain flour
12g/2 tsp instant dried yeast
20g/4 tsp sugar (or you could use honey)
2 tsp salt
60g/2 oz/¼ cup softened butter

1. Combine all the ingredients except the butter in a large bowl to make a rough dough. This was one of the wettest doughs I've ever handled and it was very messy to work with at first, so bear with me if you can. Don't knead it, initially, just leave it in the bowl.

2. Leave the dough to rise for about 15 minutes.

3. Tip the dough out of the bowl and knead in the softened butter. Adding the butter at this stage, apparently, improves the finished texture of the loaf. I guess that's because butter is a shortening agent, limiting the length of those all-important gluten strands. Those first 15 minutes of fermentation give the gluten a good head start before the butter is introduced. But that's just my theory.

4. Leave the dough to rise for 45 minutes. I left mine on the counter top with the upside down mixing bowl to cover it. I did a double take when I went back to it. It was HUGE!

5. Give the dough a brief knead then place it in the tin. The official recipe says something about shaping the dough into two small balls or a rolled-up sausage but my dough was too wet for any sort of shaping. Frankly, it was all I could do to scrape it off the counter and plop it into the tin.

6. Leave it to rise for a further 45 minutes. Here, I struggled. After about 20 minutes, mine was climbing out of the tin and I hurriedly baked it. Assuming that the quantities given above do actually fit into the tin, you could allow yourself the luxury of a longer proving stage.

7. Bake at 180oC/360F for 50 minutes, by which time it will be well browned and sending out an 'eat-me-now' sort of smell.

8. Take it out of the tin and let it cool on a wire rack before cutting into it.

Let me know how you get on!


  1. Very interesting to compare this wettish dough with your recently tested rather drier ones.

    I guess you had rather more cleaning up and scraping of the counter,this way!

  2. I made this loaf yesterday - followed all the timings closely. Once I added a little flour to the counter during the first kneed the dough came together nicely. It does like to grow this one, I'll give you that! I put the loaf in my long loaf tin in two balls and then baked in the side on my fan oven on a low shelf for 45 mins. Great result! Tasty and light ... my son and I just had two slices each for breakfast (although I'm not too sure of the butter-marmite-peanut butter mixed together on one slice of toast taste he concocted but he seemed to like it) and we are full ready to start the day. Thanks for sharing this recipe Rachel.

    Clan Ridgewood of House Mears

    1. Marmite goes quite well with peanut butter!

  3. Absolutely loved this bread, so soft even on days 2 and 3! I split the dough and froze half which was baked midweek so lovely fresh tasting homemade bread for sandwiches all week for very little effort. I'm wondering whether anyone has tried it with wholemeal flour yet..?

  4. I'd love to bake this in a classic round enclosed milk loaf bread tin. Do you know where they can be brought? It seems to be discontinued item on various sites.

    1. Alas, my searches drew a blank too, Kate. Discontinued/not in stock. Maybe you can find one in an antique shop or charity shop?

  5. So you say a 2lb tin? Any pics of one made in a 2lb tin? He says 12x19cm but I can't find any tin corresponding to this

    1. Alas, no pictures, Madra. I'll have to have another go. Any excuse ;o)

  6. Made this yesteray, very nice texture. Baked for 45 minutes and it has a very thick crust. Realised it is very similar to Nigella's Old-fashioned Sandwich Loaf, and like that it makes brilliant toast. David B.

    1. Glad you liked it! It's high time I had another go!


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