Bless My Heart

the improvement of a southern girl


Baking Bread

I “inherited” my mom’s old cookbook after I got married. Basically, she had an empty house and didn’t cook anymore, and I was starting a family and learning how to move around the kitchen.

At some point, I had to reinforce it with some… wait for it….   Duct Tape! Classy! I’m not sure when she got it, but I do know that the copyright is 1969.

There are a lot of cherished recipes in this book (mainly in the cookie section), but the reason I love this book so much is that it has my favorite bread recipe in it. I have used many different recipes while experimenting, but I always come back to this one.

The Man and I use enough yeast around here that we have ditched the little packets and buy it in a bulk block at Sam’s. Sooooo much cheaper. I have it in this Ziploc container in the fridge.

2 1/4 teaspoons make a “package”. This was a little pain in the butt until I discovered this little gem from King Arthur Flour.

Yeah for gadgets!!!!!

It’s always good to proof the yeast in warm water to make sure the little guys wake up and do their job.

After they burp for a few minutes, it should look a little like this…

If your yeast doesn’t do anything, your bread is not going to rise and you are going to have a doorstop on your hands. Make sure your yeast is alive. And then, starting adding the flour. This recipe does not transfer over well to whole wheat, but I have gotten to where I substitute at least a 1/3 of the flour with whole wheat. Besides the higher nutritional value, I feel it gives the bread a better “bite”.

I also add some Vital Wheat Gluten. It helps the rise and adds a little more protein.

To tell you the truth, I don’t measure out my flour. I just keep adding cup by cup until the texture is right. This is too wet, but I switch from my mixer to my dough hook when I get to this point. It’s about five or six cups in.

From here I add a 1/2 cup at a time until it starts firming up a little.

Time to take it out and add the rest of the flour while hand-kneading. This is the fun part.

Let it rest in rise in a bowl until doubled. Usually over an hour, hour and a half.

Punch it down and divide it up. This will make three loaves for me in my smaller loaf pans. Sometimes I’ll take some and make a half dozen hamburger buns. Yum.

Let ’em rise again and put those babies in the oven!

This is when my house starts smelling A M A Z I N G and the Man comes out of whatever hole he has been hiding in and starts hugging me. Really, it happens.

Man, oh man. It’s good. I’m going to have to learn how to not eat half a loaf immediately after removing it from the pan.

To be fair to myself, I didn’t eat half of this loaf. Just one really big slice. I’m slicing these up to put them in my Thanksgiving dressing I’m making up tomorrow. The rest I’ll put in my handy dandy bread container that I also found from King Arthur.

This will make some excellent pb&j’s for the girls tomorrow. And grilled cheese’s. And french toast.

Oh, my. I’m hungry now.