On our last visit to Charleston, SC, we picked up a copy of Matt and Ted Lee’s “Southern Cookbook” at the Historic Charleston Foundation. We were familiar with the Lee Brothers from Food Network and The New York Times, so we decided to give it a try. The Lee Brothers’ “Southern Cookbook” features traditional Southern dishes interpreted by the Lee Brothers from their dual lives in New York City and Charleston. Our favorite recipe from the book, is their version of Sally Lunn bread. While we really enjoyed their recipe, with whole milk and a lot of butter and eggs, it isn’t quite an everyday bread.
In our version of Sally Lunn, we make a Twisted Cinnamon Sally Lunn, along with a Traditional loaf. We also scale up the recipe to make four Sally Lunn loaves (either Twisted Cinnamon or Traditional) at a time. In our experience, if you are going to the trouble of making homemade bread, you should make a lot of it! The loaves freeze very well and are great for toast, sandwiches, and more.
Four 1 1/2 lb. loaves of Traditional/Twisted Cinnamon Sally Lunn Bread
- Step #1 – Milk/yeast mixture
- Heat 3 cups of skim milk on medium heat. Monitor temperature with a thermometer and turn off heat at 100F.
- The milk will continue to heat from residual heat and when the temperature is between 105F and 110F, stir in 3 packages of active dry yeast (hint: remove the thermometer before adding the yeast to make it easier to clean the thermometer).
- Remove from stove and let the milk/yeast mixture rest for 5-10 minutes while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
- Step #2 – Flour/salt mixture
- In a separate bowl, sift 12 cups of flour and 1 tablespoon of salt (hint: sift 4 cups of flour and 1 teaspoon of salt three times for better distribution of the salt within the flour).
- Step #3 – Honey/butter/egg mixture
- In a stand mixer, add 16 oz of honey (hint: it can take some time to empty the bottle, so we use the paddle to hold the bottle for us).
- Cream the melted butter, at a low speed, with the honey until it blends together.
- Add the 6 eggs, one at a time to the mixer, and stir after each egg to combine.
- Step 4 – Bring the dough together and let it rise
- Add about 1/4 of the flour/salt mixture and 1/4 of the milk/yeast mixture to the honey/butter/egg mixture to start building the dough. Stir the dough with the stand mixer.
- Repeat the previous step, continuing to add the flour/salt & milk/yeast mixtures (about 1/4 at a time) to continue bringing the dough together.
- Once all of the mixtures are incorporated into a slightly wet and sticky dough, remove the mixer bowl, cover, and set aside to rise for 30-45 minutes.
- Step 5 – Split the dough
- After the dough has risen, punch the dough about 30 times.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and lay on a clean surface
- Use a scraper to split the dough into four parts and decide how many Traditional (Step 6a) or Twisted Cinnamon (Step 6b) Sally Lunn loaves you want to make.
- Step 6a – Traditional Sally Lunn
- Use the scraper to pick up one of the four dough parts since the dough is still very wet and sticky.
- Spread the dough in the bottom of a 10″ loaf pan.
- Repeat as necessary for additional Traditional Sally Lunn loaves.
- Step 6b – Twisted Cinnamon Sally Lunn
- Use the scraper to split one of the four dough parts into two pieces.
- Shape each piece into a long roll.
- Cover the long rolls of dough with sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon to taste.
- Rub the sugar and cinnamon all over the dough rolls and gently shape into longer rolls (hint: the sugar & cinnamon will make the dough a lot less sticky and easy to handle).
- Braid/twist the cinnamon sugar dough rolls together and shape into a ring (hint: this is a fun stage to involve the kids – let them help you fold/twist/curl the dough to make any fun shape of their choice).
- Repeat as necessary for additional Twisted Cinnamon Sally Lunn loaves.
- Step 7 – Second Rise & Bake
- Once the loaves are shaped in Step 6, let them rise for another 15-30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Bake Traditional Sally Lunn loaves for 35 minutes (hint: when the top is golden brown it should be done).
- Bake Twisted Cinnamon Sally Lunn loaves for 30 minutes (hint: when the top is golden brown it should be done).
- Remove from pans/baking stones immediately and transfer loaves to cooling racks (hint: if the bread doesn’t come out of the pans easily, let it bake for a couple more minutes.).
- Optional – glaze the Twisted Cinnamon Sally Lunn loaf for an even sweeter, yummier version (think cinnamon roll bread).
Either the Traditional or Twisted Cinnamon Sally Lunn bread will last at room temperature for about 1 or 2 days before going stale. So we recommend slicing it up and freezing whatever you aren’t going eat immediately.