There is nothing better than a fresh slice of bread with butter melting into it.
I made my first pies at the age of 8 and my first bread at the age of 10. Supervised by adults at first, but fiercely independent, I would make them sit back and watch, and only allowed assistance for the purpose of instruction.
Quickly, I was making it regularly, entirely on my own, inspired by how much I loved Grandma Nelson’s home made bread. She never needed a recipe, just poured mountains of flour into a bowl, waved her hands over it and voila! Bread.
It may have involved more than that, but she wasn’t big on giving instructions, so I never did learn her secrets, even though I watched her every chance I had on visits. She made at least 8 loaves and a tray of bannock every week. I can still smell her kitchen when I think of fresh bread.
At one point, I bought a bread maker at a garage sale, and tried it out…it worked fine, but lacked the tactile sensations that are part of my love for bread making.
Normally, I prefer whole wheat bread, but this is the first recipe I ever used, and it is bullet-proof. It’s from the Purity Flour Cookbook, and the same recipe appears in most of the flour company cookbooks of that era that I have seen.
You’ll notice that this recipe calls for the addition of milk, as does the Sunflower Bread, in both cases, I regularly use milk to make ricotta, and then use the whey from the cheese making to make the bread. A litre of milk will usually produce about 600-700ml of whey.
- 2 Cups Milk scalded
- 1/4 Cup Sugar
- 4 Tsp Salt
- 1/4 Cup Shortening or butter
- 1 Cup Water room temperature
- 10 Cups All Purpose Flour Separated into equal parts.
- 2 Tsp Sugar
- 1 Cup Water lukewarm (100º - 115ºF)
- 2 Tbsp Dry Active Yeast
- Pour the scalding milk into a bowl large enough for the bread to rise in, then add the sugar, salt and shortening.
- When the shortening has melted, add the room temperature water.
- Dissolve sugar and yeast in lukewarm water. (See the link below about optimal temperatures for yeast).
- Allow the yeast to sit for 10 minutes.
- As the yeast works it will bubble and become frothy. This is a fun part for young kids to watch if there are any around.
- After the 10 minutes are up, give the yeast a brisk stir and add it to the cooled wet ingredients (making sure they are not too hot for the yeast).
- Add the first half of the flour a cup at a time, using a wooden spoon to beat it into the wet ingredients.
- After this is added and fully incorporated, start adding the second half, also a cup at a time.
- You will soon find that the dough becomes stiffer and you will want to use your hands to mix the rest in.
- Make sure you are not wearing any rings. (Unless of course, you are using this to propose marriage :-).
- As you use your hands to mix in the last of the flour, you will find that it becomes too stiff to work with and you may not need the last cup of flour. Nothing wrong with that, sometimes the air has moisture in it that the flour absorbs, sometimes the air is dry, and you need less flour.
- After the dough has taken all the flour it wants, turn it onto a lightly floured board and knead the bread by folding the bread towards yourself, then giving it a quarter turn and pushing it away from you to pull it back towards yourself again.
- Repeat this pulling, turning and pushing motion for 8-10 minutes, until the dough feels elastic and begins to resist.
- Shape the dough into a smooth ball and place in a lightly greased bowl, covering it with a clean, dry cloth.
- Place the bowl into a warm, dry area to raise. The oven is perfect, if it isn't heated. The temperature should still be about 80º, the pilot from a gas stove is ideal, or the light in an electric stove will do the trick.
- After about 1.5 hours, the dough should have about doubled in size and is ready to be punched down. Literally.
- Punch the dough down with clean, dry hands and pour the dough out again onto the lightly floured board.
- Cut into four equally sized pieces, and shape into smooth balls, covering again with the cloth.
- Allow them to rest for 15 minutes.
- Shape each ball into a loaf, place in greased pans and grease the top of the loaves.
- Alternately, you can make them into buns by either cutting any (or all) of the balls into 12 equal pieces, shaping each into a small ball, and putting them into muffin cups, or putting all of the small balls of dough into a cake tray. In this case, 12 (1/4 ball of recipe)would go into an 8" square pan, or 24 pieces (1/2 of recipe) into a 9" x 13" pan.
- You could also shape them into hotdog or hamburger buns if you wish.
- Let the loaves rest until doubled in bulk again, about 1.25 hours.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 425º for 30-35 minutes.
- 1) Substitute 1 cup of flour with 1 cup of Flax Meal. or
- 2) Substitute seeds, nuts or raisins, for up to 1 cup of the flour in the recipe.