Monday, January 12, 2009

Bread of the Gods

(Note: Blogger isn't letting me do pictures. Prepare for a post full of links.)

(Update: Kim just told me my attempt to link to the GoogleDoc of my recipe is not working. I typed out the recipe for everyone.)

No, I have not been overcome with narcissism. My husband, however, seems to have a great love for my homemade bread. While I do love the idea of the one-loaf recipe, I've encountered one problem with it: when I make bread, Ryan eats twice as much! That one loaf of bread didn't last a week. Clearly, a larger recipe was called for. And despite my great love for Ultimatte Assstownding Bred (okay, also known as Rootbeer Rye Bread), Ryan perfers white bread (the bastard).

Enter the greatest bread book of all time. (Just call me the Queen of Hyperbole.)

Growing up, this was always the book that Mom used when she made bread, and the one she had me use when I wanted to learn. Unfortunately, Mom made it quite clear that the book was hers and I was not going to be getting it any time soon. Luckily for me, I happened upon a well-loved copy at an antique shop. (And yes, I'm kinda dorky, in that I prefer the well-used, stain spattered copies. When I see an old cookbook in pristine condition, I can't help but wonder if it's really that great of a cookbook.)

With the help of the following recipe, Friday night, I baked the prettiest bread ever. If you click on no other link, you MUST go look at my bread! I almost didn't want to slice it. I considered covering it in shellac and saving it for posterity. Or at least until the fair.

For those of you bored to tears with all the bread talk, don't take me off your blog reader, yet! I do have plans for posts that do not involve bread. Stay tuned.

White Bread (Quick Method)
(asterisks, because Blogger won't space properly)
2 c. milk
5 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. salt
2 cakes (4.5 tsp) Fleishmans's yeast
2 c. lukewarm water (I used potato water)
12-13 c. sifted flour
5 tbsp. melted shortening (I used vegetable oil)
Scald milk; add sugar and salt. Cool to lukewarm. Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water and add to lukewarm milk. Add half the flour and beat until smooth. Add melted shortening and remaining flour, or enough to make easily handled dough. (Confession: I don't really measure the flour. I measure the initial 6 c., but after that, when it's time to mix by hand, I just go by feel. Of course, your milage may vary.) Knead dough quickly and lightly until smooth and elastic.
Place dough in greased bowl, cover and set in warm place, free from draft. Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1.5 hours. When light, divide into 4 equal portions and shape into loaves. Place in greased brad pans. (I don't know measurements, but there seems to be two common sizes for loaf pans. This recipe is designed for the smaller one. I made two loaves in small, cheap, dollar store pans, and those are the pretty ones. The other two, I made in the larger fancy, teflon coated pans. They came out flat and funny looking, because they rose out instead of up. So if you have the smaller pans, use those. If you only have the bigger pans, I would suggest making only 3 loaves.) Cover and let rise again until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. bake in hot oven at 425* 15 minutes, then reduce heat to moderate, or 375* and finish baking about 30 minutes longer.