I grew up on a small farm, where making most everything from “scratch” was the norm. My mom and Grandma were known for their good home cooked food and fresh baking.
Every Saturday was Bread making day. There was almost always cinnamon buns at the end of every bowl. Mom would cut the little ends off of the rolls and fry them up for us kids to wolf down. Mmmmmm.
I have a vivid picture of my mom, long grey hair braided into a coronet on her head, standing next to her kitchen stool. On the stool was a huge metal bowl full of bread dough which she kneaded, punched and turned, all at the same time…
It is such a homey, beautiful picture. I’m not sure how many buns and loaves came out of her bowl, but I use her recipe and continue to mix my bread by hand.
Freshly baked and cooked smells are some of the best parts of farm living, and what makes our kitchen so inviting, so I’ve decided to share my mom’s bread recipe with you in hopes that it brings you together with those you love over a delicious snack.
- 1 tbsp old fashioned yeast (not quick rise)
- 2 tbsp + 1 tsp white sugar (1 tsp for mixing with yeast)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tbsp vinegar
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 1/2 tbsp salt
- 8 + cups of all purpose flour (You can play with this and mix half and half with whole wheat flour)
- 5 – 5 1/2 cups warm water
Yield: Makes four loaves of bread.
Cooking time: All day. (or approx. 5 hours)
- Mix the yeast, and 1tsp of sugar into 1/2c water (MAKE SURE the water is WARM and NOT cold… but better colder than hotter, i.e lukewarm – this directly affects how much flour you will use and how either dry or heavy your bread will turn out) – put aside to rise for approx. 10 minutes
- Using a large mixing bowl measure flour into it and make a well (hollow) in the middle. Always start with less flour and add as you work.
- in a small container melt butter with salt
- in another container mix 2 tbsp sugar with vinegar (dissolve sugar)
- put sugar/vinegar mixture in with butter/salt mixture and add yeast mixture – and put all mixtures into 5- 5 1/2 cups of water – again, WARM water – not too hot and not too cold, hotter= too much flour = dry bread.
- Pour wet ingredients into flour and mix with fingers.
- If very gooey once all the flour is mixed in, add more flour in small increments (1/2 cup – 1cup at a time)
- Knead and punch dough until not sticky and no excess flour.
- If you think you are finished you should be able to jab your fingers into the dough and come out with nothing sticking to them. (see above photo)
- Turn dough over in bowl (so its smooth) and rub small amount of softened butter on top (to keep it from crusting) and around the sides of the bowl where the dough is touching. Cover with a clean cloth and let it rise.
- Rise for 2 hours, punch it down (not excessively) and turn it over.
- Let rise for 1 more hour.
- Cut bread pan sizes of dough and knead gently to get rid of large air pockets, shape and roll into right size (should reach at least half – three quarters full in the bread pan).
- Fork dough once in pans to keep air pockets out.
- Let rise for 1/2 to 1 hour.
- Bake at 350 F for approx 1/2 hr. (until top is dark golden brown)
- Take out and let cool on racks – don’t leave in the pan for long or it will sweat – don’t place in container until cooled or it will sweat.
Making bread from scratch is a very creative and messy kind of process, so be prepared to spend some time and practice getting it right!
And there you have it! Glorious, airy and freshly homemade goodness to enjoy!