by Kelli Bowen
Growing up, I remember baking on Sundays. I especially love baking bread because: BREAD. The smell, the texture, everything about baking bread is so very good. A lot of times I’ll use a frozen cheater loaf. Because I’m a glutton for punishment, and I am trying to raise functional members of society, this past Sunday I made bread from scratch and asked the girls if they wanted to help me.
Baking bread at home isn’t a fast process and I have found that recipes are usually not the same for time to let rise or time to bake. If I followed most recipes I’d end up with charred little pucks because I didn’t let it rise long enough and I over-baked the loaf. Maybe it’s because I keep my house cool, maybe I don’t follow the process close enough, but I almost always have to tweak a recipe from someone else.
Anyhoo – so we go to make bread. The milk, sugar and butter are dissolving on the stove and Miss E is whisking to make sure every granule is dissolving properly. I gave Miss A a measuring cup and said we needed 4 1/2 cups of flour in the big mixer. She nods and gets to work scooping flour. I go to getting the yeast burbling and doing its yeast thing. Hubby is side-stepping all of us trying to get breakfast situated for the morning so we have four humans trying to use the same four feet of space in the kitchen.
Miss E has her task under control, so we take the milk off the oven so it can cool to room temperature. I come back to Miss A. How many cups do you have in the bowl? Four. Okay, but you’re using 1/2 cups so you really have two cups in the bowl? Yep. Okay, I level a half-cup of flour and demonstrate <again> how to get the cups for the bowl and say: “Okay four more scoops = you need two more cups”. I go back to the yeast and to check my recipe. I come back. How many cups are in the bowl? Four. Huh? You had four last time. Yep. Okay… did you put any more in the bowl after I left? Yep = four. So all the flour is now in the bowl? Uh-huh.
The girls run to the bathroom to wash their hands again and Hubby asks: “You gonna double-check that flour?” Nope. I’m just rolling with it.
We throw the mixer into mix-mode and after the initial flour-cloud explosion because the mixer was turned on too fast, it appears that we still have some very-floury dough. I tell the girls they’re done helping for now, and get out the board and start kneading by hand until the dough seems more like dough, and throw it in the bowl to rise. Then I get to cleaning up the flour cloud that has descended upon the kitchen.
After about an hour, I get Miss A and we do her favorite part: punching the dough down. Then we split the dough into loaves, put them in pans, and leave them to rise again. After a couple hours, I realize the bread isn’t getting any puffier than it already is and I bake the bread. I bake it for half the time in the recipe and at a lower temperature and it still seemed questionable.
We enjoyed bread with dinner that night, and other than the crust being crusty, the girls didn’t complain. Hubby and I agreed it would be a good bread to sop up soup with, so I guess I know what we’re having next weekend.
Basic Bread recipe
Combine in saucepan: 2 cups milk, 2 T sugar, 3 T butter, heat until it bubbles, then pull off heat and cool until lukewarm
Dissolve yeast in warm water and let stand about 5 minutes
Combine both milk mixture and yeast with flour, adding a half cup at a time until all combined, then knead 8-10 minutes until the dough is elastic/slightly sticky
Add 1 Tablespoon of oil to a bowl, rotate dough around to coat and let rise until double the size.
Punch it down, split the dough in half and roll into a bread shape. Put in bread pan and let rise until ready to bake.
Bake at 375 15-20 minutes.
Kelli makes her home in Cass County with her husband, two daughters (11 and 8) and two dogs. She works for a regional seed company by day and tries to be an alright mom, wife, friend and writer by night.
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