I have been making bread since I was a girl, I can remember making it when I was nine or ten, and I can remember watching my mother make this particular recipe when I was even smaller. She would make a huge batch of bread, perfuming the whole house with the smell of baking, and we all looked forward to that first loaf out of the oven, which never had time to cool before it was eaten. Today, I usually make bread two loaves at a time, not six, but I made this recipe yesterday so I could give some to friends. I also made a batch of wild grape jelly, but that’s a recipe for another time.
Before I give you the recipe, you should know that this recipe is not for a beginner. Because you will be adding flour to the initial recipe without an exact amout given, you will need to know when it’s the right consistency. All flours, locations, altitudes differ, and your experience with dough will tell you when there’s enough flour in there. For a beginner, I will include my standard recipe below this one, which is my mothers, and which may even be older than that. I have an index card, yellowed and stained with oils, that this recipe is written on.
Bread: 6 loaves
6 c whole wheat flour
2 c powdered milk
2 tbsp + 2 tsp salt
4 tbsp yeast (rounded spoonsful)
Mix Well, then add liquid ingredients.
6 c lukewarm water
1 c honey
1/2 c cooking oil
Mix well, then add white flour, 2 cups at a time, until texture is right and then knead for 4-5 minutes, until two fingers pressed into the dough form a depression that quickly springs back.
Transfer to an oiled bowl and let rise until double, about 1 hour. Punch the dough down, cut into 6 segments and form loaves or rolls as desired. Place into greased loaf pans and let rise again for about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the bread sounds hollow when tapped. I like to butter the loaf top as soon as it comes out of the oven.
Basic Bread Recipe
4 1/2 c flour (any combination of white and whole wheat. The more whole wheat, the heavier the bread)
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp oil
2 1/4 tsp yeast
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 c water
Place wet ingredients in stand mixer bowl, start the dough hook at low, then slowly add the flour until it is fully incorporated and starts to ‘climb’ the hook. Allow to continue on low for another 3-4 minutes, then remove the dough and form into a ball. Place in a greased bowl, turning your ball of dough over to fully coat with the oil. Allow to rise until doubled in a warm place. Punch down, cut in half, and place in two greased loaf pans. Allow to double again, and then place in an oven at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. The bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped.
I like to add all kinds of goodies to this – sunflower seeds, oatmeal, dried fruit, herbs… you name it, if it’s not too juicy, it can go in there. Have fun!