While the wind blows and the snow swirls around, everything is toasty warm here in my little corner of the world. I just got off the phone with youngest son who is out helping his crews move snow. He asked what I was doing today and I replied that it was a good day to bake bread. He said that he would be home in a couple of hours and would like his kids to learn to bake bread, but that he had never tried that skill. He remembered watching me knead bread when he was a kid. He wanted to know if I had a good recipe. Because my email has been a bit wonky lately, I told him that I would post the recipe here. Perhaps someone else will find it useful, too.
This is the recipe that I use most often. It makes a good tasting loaf and requires only basic ingredients. I got the recipe from Suzanne McMinn's blog, "Chickens in the Road," and have included her instructions, word for word.
Submitted by: Suzanne McMinn
Deliciously simple and simply delicious, Grandmother Bread is a daily staple in our farmhouse. This is a heritage recipe, tested by time and the hands of mothers and grandmothers for over a hundred years. This secret family recipe is different from many standard white bread recipes in that it contains no milk, egg, or oil, and its very simplicity produces a bread of light but sturdy texture that yields loaves for perfectly sliced sandwich bread (the best sandwich bread you’ll ever taste! also makes excellent french toast!), plus the same dough can be used to create dinner rolls, cinnamon-swirl loaves, sweet rolls, crispies, and apple-strudel ladder loaf.
Once you’ve grasped the concept of the standard Grandmother Bread recipe, you can create variations of your own–the possibilities are limitless!
Two-loaf standard recipe
3 cups warm water
1 tablespoon yeast (1 packet)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
7 cups all-purpose flour
One-loaf standard recipe
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
See step by step instructions on How to Make Bread:
In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, sugar, and salt. Let sit five minutes.
Stir in first three cups of flour with a heavy spoon. Add the next cup of flour a little at a time as needed, stirring until dough becomes too stiff to continue stirring easily. Add a little more flour and begin kneading. The amount of flour is approximate–your mileage may vary! Continue adding flour and kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Let dough rise in a greased, covered bowl until doubled. (Usually, about an hour.) Uncover bowl; sprinkle in a little more flour and knead again before dividing in half. With floured hands, shape dough into loaves and place in two greased loaf pans. Tear off two pieces of waxed paper and grease with oil spray (to prevent it from sticking to the loaves as they rise) and cover loaf pans. Let rise till loaves are tall and beautiful! (About an hour, depending on the temperature in your kitchen.)
Bake for 25 minutes in a preheated 350-degree oven."
The only thing I don't do is use the waxed paper to cover the loaves while they raise. A clean dish towel works fine for me. And I will add that when tapping on the loaf produces a hollow sound, the bread is done.
It does my heart good to see skills like bread baking passed down from one generation to the next. I am grateful that my mother taught me as it is a skill that I use every week. Today I can make my own bread and I don't have to brave the cold and the wind just to go to a store for a loaf. And it just tastes so good.
To my grandkids - let me know how your bread turns out. I know it will be good. Make sure Mom and Dad give each of you a slice with lots of butter while it is still warm. And have fun!