I love fresh baked bread. More than that, I love actually making it myself. It’s therapeutic to mix all the ingredients and feel the dough in your hands, and finally to “Know” when it feels “just right”, and it’s ready to place in a warm spot to let rise. And the Smell of it….. Ahhhhh …… so wonderful, from the yeast growing in the bowl to the actual baking in the oven. It’s such a heavenly aroma that fills the whole house.
My favorite recipe is derived from a “Redbook”, magazine back in the mid-70’s of all places and times. It works every time, and it’s so easy to modify and still get great results with. I believe the key ingredient, and the reason for the delicious taste in this recipe, is the molasses. You can use golden molasses for a light sweet flavor or full dark (but not black strap) molasses and get a full bodied, robust flavor out of your wheat bread. It doesn’t hurt to have an extra dab of butter put on just before it finishes baking either, as this makes the crust deliciously chewy and moist. This recipe makes two full size loaves of sweet wheat Bread that isn’t too heavy or dense. My family loves it. It’s Just right.
1 – really large bowl (to mix it all up in)
1 – two quart bowl (to measure the flour and salt into initially)
1 – small sauce pan for heating the milk, butter, sugar and molasses in
1 – one cup measuring scoop
2 – bread loaf pans ( or two large baking pans depending on whether you want to make loaves of bread or dinner rolls)
a surface suitable for punching your bread down on (it helps if this surface is lower than your waist)
This can be done inside the really large bowl if it’s large enough to fit both your hands easily into the bottom of it.
1 cup of lukewarm water
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon of white granulated sugar
1 – 8 ounce stick of margarine or 1 cup of butter
(plus an extra stick of butter or margarine for the little extra bits of butter on the tops 0f the baking bread, and for eating it after it’s baked)
1/4 cup plus one tablespoon of full dark or golden molasses
1 cup of milk
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups white all-purpose flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
In the really large bowl, mix together:
1 cup of warm (not hot) water (Remember, heat kills yeast, so cool everything down to lukewarm to mix it together)
1 tablespoon of molasses
1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
2 packages of active dry yeast (1/4 ounce each) or 1/2 an ounce of active dry yeast from a jar (That’s the equivalent of 1 1/2 tablespoons)
Stir this together till all the yeast is melted into the sugar/molasses water, and let it sit (and grow) while you mix and cool the other ingredients.
In the small sauce pan mix together and bring Just to a boil (some recipes prefer to “scald” the milk – that’s what happens when you boil it a little):
6 ounces of margarine or butter
1/2 cup of white granulated sugar
1/4 cup of molasses
*If you don’t have molasses, but you do have brown sugar, you can substitute 3/4 cup of packed brown sugar for both the molasses and the white granulated sugar.
1 cup of milk (preferably whole milk)
Then let cool off while the yeast is growing in the bowl.
(do Not add these ingredients Hot to your yeast mixture – it would immediately die if you did, and your bread wouldn’t rise then)
While the other ingredients are cooling, get out the two quart bowl and measure into it:
Three cups of white flour
1 teaspoon salt, and
Three cups of wheat flour.
Mix these ingredients together thoroughly.
*If you don’t have whole wheat flour , you can use all white flour but you will need an extra cup of it. This substitution would result in a sweet, light golden bread.
When the milk/butter/sugar /molasses mixture is cooled off, pour into the really large bowl
Add one cup of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, and stir in thoroughly.
Add another cup and repeat this step until five cups of flour are stirred in.
It will get quite stiff when you are nearly there.
Put some flour on your hands and begin to knead the dough in the bowl.
(you can do this on a flat surface like a table but put some flour down on it before you put the dough down on it or the dough will stick to the surface)
Add some more flour to the mixture as you are kneading it.
Knead in the remaining flour until the dough feels a little less sticky and a little more elastic.
It should spring back when you poke it with your finger.
Knead for at least 5 minutes, then cover the top of the dough with a little butter or margarine, and put some in the bottom of the bowl too so the dough will not be impeded in it’s rise and won’t get dried out.
Cover with a clean dish towel while it’s rising to keep things out of the dough.
Place the bowl in a slightly warm location while it’s rising for the next hour.
Prepare the loaf pans by buttering the bottoms and sides with one of the remaining two ounces of butter.
When the dough has doubled in bulk, punch it down again and knead for another five minutes (if you don’t knead it for five minutes it will get a large bubble under the top crust when it bakes), then divide the dough in two parts and place in the buttered loaf pans. Butter the top of the dough again. Let rise undisturbed for another hour.
When it has doubled in bulk again, place the twice risen bread dough in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.
During the last five minutes, pull out the oven rack with the loaves on it and use the last ounce of butter on the top of the still baking loaves, and put back in the oven for a couple more minutes to make a nice chewy crust.
It’s always nice to have the people who want to eat the bread available when it is just getting done, as there is just about nothing better to eat than freshly baked bread with butter on it.
To store this bread, wrap it in plastic wrap while it is still hot, and it will stay moist until you are finished eating it.
© Ellen M Story and emariaenterprises, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ellen M Story and emariaenterprises with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.