This is another indigenous Southern treat, whose origins are somewhat unclear. In the 18th Century, according to lore, there may or may not have been an actual Sally Lunn and she may or may not have been English, but it really doesn’t matter. This is the South’s answer to brioche: yeasty, buttery, light and airy, and incredibly easy, as it requires no kneading whatsoever. In fact, this may be the easiest bread recipe of all time, and you’ll have such a feeling of accomplishment when you serve it; it is a big tube-shaped loaf, as impressive in it’s presentation as it is in it’s exquisite flavor.
YIELD: 1 loaf, about 16 servings
1 ½ cups milk
¼ cup sugar
1 (¼ ounce) package active dry yeast (make sure it’s new!)
1 tablespoon salt
3 eggs, at room temperature, beaten
1 stick (8 tablespoons) salted butter, melted, plus more for brushing
5 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
In a medium-sized saucepan over a medium heat, heat the milk until it is lukewarm (110°-115°F). Milk that is too hot will kill the yeast; milk that is too cold will not activate the yeast
In a large mixing bowl, combine the lukewarm milk and sugar. Shake the dry yeast over it, and wait up to 5 minutes until you see a slight bubbling. If there is no bubbling, discard the mixture, go buy new yeast, and start again.
To the bubbling mixture, add the salt, beaten eggs, 8 tablespoons melted butter, and 3 cups of the flour. Stir gently, but do not over mix it or the bread will be tough.
Add the remaining 2½ cups flour to the bowl, stirring gently to form a soft dough. Do not knead this dough. Brush the inside of a large mixing bowl with melted butter and add the dough. Cover it and set it in the warmest place in your kitchen and allow it to rise 1-2 hours until it has doubled in size. After the dough has doubled in size, pre-heat the oven to 375°, and butter and flour a10-inch tube pan or bundt mold.
Punch the dough down with your fist, once or twice, to deflate it, and spoon it into the prepared pan. Cover the dough again, set it in the warmest place in your kitchen, and let it rise for another 1-2 hours until it has doubled again in size.
Brush the top with melted butter and bake it for 25-30 minutes until it is golden brown.
Let it cool for 10 minutes, run the dull edge of a knife around the outside of the pan, and invert it onto a platter to release the bread. Let it cool for 15 to 20 minutes, then slice and serve it. Or slice it, toast it, and butter it, and then serve it.