Sunday, June 24, 2018

Bread

I grew up in an industrial town.  My friend lived in a row of houses just past all the factories, the last factory was the bread stick factory.  The smell was wonderful and if you had a dollar and they weren't too busy they would give you a large bag full of warm, fresh bread sticks.  It was heaven!   When I was older, I tried to bake my own bread, it was awful.  Learning to cook was a dismal endeavor for me and anyone who happened to be around when I entered the kitchen.  I improved year by year cooking meals, but it took me much longer to be able to produce an edible loaf of bread.   I really couldn't tell you why, or even when it all started to come together.  A little more yeast, a lot more patience, maybe some praying, but it did finally come together.  I would love to tell you that I bake for our budget, or even that I wanted better nutritional value, but I would be lying.. I bake bread because I love the smell of bread baking, I enjoy the satisfaction of it coming out well and I like to eat it.



Basic Sandwich Loaf

3 cups of warm water
3 Tablespoons of yeast
1/4 cup sugar
9 cups of flour
5 teaspoons of salt
5 Tablespoons of oil

Pretty basic, what is good about this is you can substitute different flours.  If all purpose flour is what you have in bulk or budget, this will work.  I use a combination of wheat, all purpose, and bread flour. 
Add yeast and sugar to warm water and stir to dissolve.  Add half the flour and all of the salt, mix well then knead in the rest of the flour.  Place in bowl if mixing by hand and add oil, knead a few minutes then cover and let rise 45 minutes.  Punch down and shape and place into two greased loaves and cover. let rise 35-40 minutes, preheat oven to 400.
Bake for 30 minutes, check after 15 minutes and if getting too brown, tent some tin foil over the top and continue baking until finished.  Remove from pans and cool on a wire rack.

No matter how I bake it, a couple of the children will not eat loaf bread.  They just prefer store bought but all of them eat this:

Favorite Na an Bread

1 1/2 tsp. yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup white sugar
3 Tablespoons milk
1 egg beaten
2 tsp. salt
4 1/2 cups of flour
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup melted butter

In a large bowl dissolve yeast in water and wait 10 minutes until bubbly.  Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt and flour.  Knead until smooth.  Knead into a ball and place in a well oiled bowl, cover and let rise until doubled.  About one hour.  Punch down dough and knead in garlic.  Pinch off small amounts, about the size of a golf ball.  I place them on a long sheet of wax paper and cover with plastic wrap sprayed lightly with cooking oil.  Let rise thirty minutes.  Roll out flat on a lightly floured surface.  You can use a flat cast iron griddle, or a nonstick frying pan.  Brown slightly on both sides, remove from heat and brush lightly with melted butter.

One of my favorites:

Baked Boston Brown Bread

2 cups yellow or white cornmeal
1 cup rye-wheat flour or 1/2 cup of all purpose flour and 1/2 cup of rye flour
2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup dark molasses
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 9X5 loaf pan.
Stir together cornmeal, rye-wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Stir in molasses, buttermilk, ginger and raisins until just mixed.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake on center rack of oven for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry.  Cool in the pan for five minutes, then turn out onto a wire a rack to finish cooling.  This is a very dense, dark bread.


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