One of my favorite memories growing up was bread days. I loved getting home from school and walking into the house filled with the smell of warm bread. I strangely loved going into the kitchen and seeing the sink full and my Mom covered in flour. I loved that the moment we would walk in the door she would yell, “Don’t run! Bread is rising, walk softly.” The bread always tasted the best on the first day, when it came out of the oven and I could put butter on it and it would melt before I could spread it all the way. Mmmmmm. . . and then the fresh jam. Life is just so much better with hot bread and homemade jam. Thanks Mom for all your hard work in the kitchen. Thanks also go to my sisters who have kept the cooking/baking tradition alive. I love that if I can’t get a hold of Mom I can run through all my sisters to ask questions or get advice on recipes and cooking in general.
I have a few bread recipes that I could share, but this is the recipe that I made today and it turned out so perfectly that I just had to share.
Sweet and Squishy White/Wheat Bread
3 cups warm water (about as hot as you would give your kids in hot cocoa)
2 packages active dry yeast (1Tbsp + 1/2 tsp)
1/3 cup honey
5 cups bread flour
5 Tbsp. vital gluten
approx. 3/4 Tbsp. dough enhancer
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1 Tbsp. salt
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 Tbsp. vital gluten
butter or margarine
(opt. sunflower seeds or other added goodness)
In a large bowl (or Kitchenaid) mix warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. Add 5 cups flour, 5 Tbsp. gluten, and dough enhancer, and stir to combine. Cover bowl with a towel and let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.
Mix in remaining butter, honey, and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour. If in Kitchenaid then gradually add the remaining flour about a 1/2 cup at a time while continually stirring it with the kneading arm. Let it continue stirring until the dough is completely off the sides and the consistency is slightly sticky to the touch. If by hand then flour a surface and begin to knead the bread adding the remaining flour little by little until the dough no longer sticks to the counter but is slightly sticky to the touch. Place in a greased bowl. Cover with a terry cloth. Let rise in a warm place until doubled. (TIP: Put your oven rack a little lower and then place the bowl in there to rise with the oven light on to keep it the perfect warmness. DO NOT turn the oven on! Putting it in the oven will prevent breezes or heavy traffic from ruining the rising process)
Once doubled in size (about an hour later) punch the dough down and divide into 3 loaves. Place in greased 9×5 inch loaf pans, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by about one inch (again let it rise in the turned off oven with the light on). Rising time will be about 30-45 minutes.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes; do not over bake. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with butter or margarine when done. Let the loaves sit in the pans for a few minutes and then turn them upside down over a towel and they should just pop right out to continue cooling.