The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

anyone made milk loaf with preferment?

MommaT's picture

anyone made milk loaf with preferment?


Our "daily bread" when we lived in Cape Town was a plain ol' white or wheat loaf baked twice a day at our local "Kwikspar" (like a 7-11).   I try to make various milk loaf variations and it is nothing like this bread, which had some of the softness and a little hint of the flavour of a white milk loaf  but a slightly sturdier, springier crumb like a sourdough and without that fine cakey crumb you can get with a milk loaf.  With no perceptible sour taste at all nor much hint of sweetness - just neutral.   The crust is very soft and the loaf looks as if it were baked in a pullman.  It also doesn't dry out, crumble and stale like a normal milk loaf.

My baking consists mostly of sourdoughs (i.e., natural starter) and occasionally a recipe with biga or poolish, so I don't often work with these kinds of doughs.   

Usually, when it comes to 'normal' loaves, I don't often see pre-ferments in a standard soft sandwich loaf so I'm a bit perplexed and about to embark on a quest to mix up these loaves (although in light wheat form, which the trusty Kwikspar also had).  My initial thought was to include starter and a bit of milk or milk powder, perhaps a little oil or butter.  Then my mind started wandering to pate fermentee and my grandmother's description of using a bit of the loaf from the night before when baking daily for her family of 9 kids.  

Anyone out there have experience with this?  Or any thoughts on how to meld the characteristics of these two different loaves?

Perhaps Paul (PMcCool) is out there in, testing the local fare and can comment on what he thinks makes those breads the way they are.  My son would clean his room daily if I could reproduce chicken pies, nevermind 'Kwikspar bread'.



pmccool's picture

at what Spar has to offer.  Maybe I can pick some up this Saturday or Sunday.  We have KwikSpar, Spar and SuperSpar stores in the area, so I'm assuming that the breads are all from the same source.  Was this one of their "bakery" breads, or a generic plastic-bagged sandwich loaf in the bread aisle?  

Unrelated commentary: the SuperSpar bakeries have a dizzying array of breads, pastries and desserts.  I'm already a fan of melktert (milk tart).  I'll have to try the Portugese version one of these days.


pmccool's picture


I picked up a loaf of Spar's white bread on Saturday, to see if I could deconstruct it.  It is very much as you described.  The loaf is somewhat taller than it is wide, domed as if it grew above the sides of the pan, but flattened on top as if it encountered a barrier to further growth while baking.

Without any label to list ingredients, here are my guesses:

1. Flavor and texture suggest that there is probably some milk content, although possibly from non-fat dry milk powder rather than fluid milk.  The crumb, though firm, is a bit too tender for a bread made with water only.

2. There is also probably a small percentage of fat, though it's anyone's guess what kind.  Vegetable oil, maybe?  Shortening?  Again, the crumb is softer than is typical of a lean bread.  The flavor and color wouldn't indicate butter, lard, or eggs.

3. I suspect that the flour used is a higher-protein bread flour.  This is a sturdy bread with a leathery crust.  It doesn't compress into a squishy mass that clings to the roof of your mouth, a la Wonder Bread.  It requires one to chew.  Purposefully.

The flavor is very neutral.  There was nothing to suggest a preferment having been used.  Crumb texture is mostly fine with a few scattered larger bubbles, but not nearly as uniform as many factory breads.  During slicing, small shreds of crumb were formed, almost as if there was a slight stickiness that caused the knife blade to pull away fragments of the crumb.  I didn't see traces of gumminess on the blade afterward, though.  

Pithy summation: Wonder Bread's gym-rat brother.  Stronger, tougher, but still bland.  

I think this would be a great base for bread puddings, french toast, croutons and other bread-based dishes where you want something that won't fall apart.  Kids would probably love it in sandwiches, as would ladies of the club (after the crusts are removed).

Were I to try to emulate this (but bent more to my personal tastes), I'd probably tinker with either a pain de mie or, maybe, a potato bread.  The milk in the pain de mie would certainly produce a tender crumb, as long as you use something other than skim milk.  Potatoes would provide a similar effect, with longer-lasting moistness in the crumb.  A pre-ferment such as a biga could be used to good effect to bring out the flavors of the wheat, as could your starter.

Sounds to me like you are playing with the right things.  It's mainly a matter of getting the right combination.  I do think a bread flour, rather than AP, will be needed for the crumb's strength.  Have fun with your experiments.


MommaT's picture

Hi Paul,

Thanks for the 'evaluation'.

It is indeed the kids sandwiches and occasional toast with egg that this would go for.  I'm a grainy girl, so it's definitely not my style.

I've tried pain de mie several times and have been disappointed with it.  I find the drier, almost crumbly crumb difficult and like bread that keeps a bit better.  

I do like potato bread and, in fact, have a batch of the Green's cookbook potato bread working on the counter as we speak.

I'm going to give a whirl with some non-fat dry milk and a touch of oil and see what comes out!

Thanks again!


PS:  I trust your enjoying yourself with the other Xmas goodies on offer.  My 24-hole tartlet pan arrived yesterday and my Sunday is going to be spent making mince...and then mini mince pies!


rossnroller's picture

MommaT, would you mind posting back once you've done a bake or two - if you can get close to the prototype, and it's OK with you, I'd like to try the recipe you come up with.