Things My Grandmother Knew: Baking Bread

I can’t really remember my grandmother making bread, but I do remember my mom teaching me how to make bread and using Aunt Velda’s Refrigerator Roll recipe.  I even baked bread for some of my favorite teachers in high school. So, I guess you could say this is an area that my grandmother knew and that I learned along the way.  To me it is one of the most relaxing things to do and has been so much easier than when I first started due to the wonderful mixers and bread makers available to us.

Now, I do want to let you know that I’m NOT a fan of bread makers.  I saved and saved for one years ago and was so disappointed by the product it produced, I ended up putting it in a garage sale and going back to the old fashioned way.  To me, there was just a distinct difference in the texture of the bread.  However, I did save the recipe book that came with the bread maker and still use it to bake bread in the oven.

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Just this morning, I made five loaves of bread using recipes found in the bread maker recipe book.  It seems almost as quick and easy for me to use my Kitchen Aide mixer with its dough hook then it did to use the bread maker and I like this texture much better.  Just like when you use a bread maker, I dump all of the ingredients into the bowl of the mixer all at once, then I turn the mixer on low and let it mix and knead the bread.  When it is finished, I put it in a greased bowl and let it rise until double.  Then, I punch it down, form it into a loaf or circle (depending on the style of bread I’m making) and let it rise again.  Then, in the oven it goes at 400 for the first 10 minutes and the at 350 until an inserted knife comes out clean.

Now, I live at 9400 feet above sea level so once I moved here, I had some issues with some of my old bread recipes working at this altitude.  I’ve over come this by doing a few things differently.

1.  My best bread is made in circle shape and baked on a pizza stone.

2.  I always add gluten to the recipe OR

3.  I add an extra teaspoon or two of yeast. (regular not rapid-rise)

Just those simple things seem to make the bread come out perfectly almost every time.  Even when I use a regular loaf pan, adding the gluten or the yeast, really helps with consistency of the bread.

I’ve also experimented with breads using freshly ground wheat and grain and I LOVE the taste, but I HATE the mess of grinding so I don’t do that very often.  However, using the method above, I’ve baked bread three times in the past week.  It’s that easy and cleanup is a snap.

Here are the two recipes I used this morning.

Raisin Bread (for a 2lb loaf)

1 1/2 cups water

4 cups white bread flour

2 tbsp. dry milk (I substitute regular milk when I am out of dry milk and have no problems)

2 tbsp. sugar

2 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. butter

1 tsp. cinnamon

4 tsp. active dry yeast (at high altitude I used 2 1/2 tbsp)

Mix and knead with mixer.  Let dough rise in greased bowl until double.  Punch down, form into desired shape and let rise until double.  Bake at 400 for 10 minutes and then at 350 until an inserted knife comes out clean and bread is golden brown.

French Bread (for a 2 lb loaf)

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp water

4 cups white bread flour

2 tbsp sugar

2 tsp. salt

3 tsp. active dry yeast (at high altitude I used 3 tbsp. active dry yeast)

Mix and knead with mixer.  Let dough rise in greased bowl until double.  Punch down, form into desired shape and let rise until double.  Bake at 400 for 10 minutes and then at 350 until an inserted knife comes out clean and bread is golden brown.

Still sound like too much work.  I assure you the smell of freshly baked bread and your family’s reaction to it will be well worth the effort.

Faith and Courage,

Lori

***This post series has been inspired by my reading the book:  How to Sew A Button and Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew

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5 thoughts on “Things My Grandmother Knew: Baking Bread

  1. Oh, I enjoyed this so much!! It brought back memories of seeing you in our kitchen, too. This is precious to me!

  2. Melanie Miles

    How many cups of raisins? I’ve got my mixer out & everything is all set to go… 😉

  3. My grandmother used a bread machine, haha! These breads sound delicious though 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

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