Hi Rise Vanilla Loaf
adapted from Hi Rise Bread Company, Cambridge MA via Amanda Hesser
For the loaf:
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 ½ cups vanilla sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 T vanilla extract
8 large eggs, room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
For the syrup:
1 ¾ cups sugar
1 cup water
2 vanilla beans, split and scraped
Thickly butter two loaf pans and preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit (Note - I halved the recipe because I did not have enough sugar!)
Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy (see photo in collage below). Scrape the first vanilla bean and get all the seeds into the bowl, along with the vanilla extract (photo 2).Add the eggs one by one and beat to combine. Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the batter and fold in, mixing minimally with a rubber spatula, until just combined.
Divide the batter between the loaf pans. Bake for 30 minutes, then turn the pans and bake another 25-40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out almost clean.
While the loaves bake, make syrup. In a small saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the water over medium heat. Note: it takes a while to dissolve the sugar since the ratio makes a pretty concentrated sugar solution. Just be patient and keep watching the solution - don't make burnt sugar here! Add the vanilla beans and seeds and stir a little to loosen the seeds. Remove pan from heat.
When the loaves are done, cool them for 10 minutes in the pan on a rack, and then turn them out onto the rack.
Brush the loaves generously on all sides with the syrup. Repeat the brushing with syrup a few more times as the loaves cool. Note: I did not have a brush, but I was able to successfully spoon small amounts of vanilla syrup over the bread.
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