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"Dickinson? Denison? Dawson?"
This is how the conversation normally starts when I say that I went to Davidson College. Located just north of Charlotte, the quintessential college town of Davidson used to be a well-kept secret—until 2015, that is. In June, former student Stephen Curry won an N.B.A. championship and an M.V.P. title.
Kindred Restaurant opened this past February on Davidson's Main Street—the only street in town worth knowing. The opening was a warm homecoming for the Davidson-bred owner and chef, Joe Kindred, who started the restaurant with his wife Katy.
The first week it opened, a number of my colleagues at Summit coffee shop visited and each came back regailing the same story, about the same recipe, the same starter, the same bread: Kindred's Milk Bread.
For a whole week, I couldn't stop hearing about how addictive, how salty, how warm this bread was. But the whole time, I was wondering, What's all this fuss about a loaf of bread?
And now, I'm preaching that fuss to you. After a week, I couldn't take it anymore and I decided to try the Milk Bread and the rest of Kindred's menu for myself. I walked the five minutes it took to get there and was seated at a table for four, where I waited for my other friends to arrive (as I, the eager restaurant eater, often do).
Then I saw it: the Milk Bread. The waiter, seeing that I was seated, came and placed it on my empty table. Now, how was I supposed to sit there waiting for my friends to arrive with this bread, the Milk Bread, placed in front of me? I eyed its muffin-like top, bursting with sparkly salt. The spots of sandy-colored dough bunked next to a darker golden shell brainwashed me. How long until they get here? And then, in moments, my friends seated themselves and the four of us tried—and finished—Kindred's Milk Bread.
Then we ordered another. And another. You get it, I was on the bandwagon.
Since then, I've visited Kindred three more times, each time consuming inappropriate amounts of Milk Bread. But given the fact that my love for Kindred's Milk Bread now fringes on addiction and I no longer live in Davidson, I decided that I would have to make the Milk Bread at home.
Within twenty-four hours hours of learning the recipe (I was lucky enough to host Chef Joe Kindred in our office with my Food52 colleagues), I made four loaves. And to my great delight, our whole office ate their bodyweight in Kindred's Milk Bread that day. And they're still talking about it.
Now, it's time for you to make it! Not sure what you might use it for? If you don't want to eat Milk Bread plain (but really, is that even a question?), Joe says that you can truly enjoy it at every meal: French toast, sandwich bread, burgers, lobster rolls, doughnuts. Just swap the Milk Bread recipe in and you're one step closer to creating a whole new network of followers.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit
Makes 6 rolls, two 9- by 5-inch loaves, or 12 split-top buns
5 1/3 cups bread flour, divided, plus more for surface (Kindred uses King Arthur)
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup mild honey (such as wildflower or alfalfa)
3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder (such as Alba)
2 tablespoons active dry yeast (from about 3 envelopes)
3 large eggs
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Flaky sea salt (optional, but shouldn't be)
Photos by Blake Pope