Monday, December 27, 2004

Baking Bread

Baking Bread

It is hard to get started writing about my household. The garden exists because of the chickens. The chickens are here to lay eggs. Selling eggs leads to selling rhubarb. What we eat is what the garden gave us. Each day offers chores according to the season, as well as gifts. One thing I do at least once a week is make bread. It is always the same recipe, but the job and the bread differ with time of year.

With five people in the family, I make four loaves at a time. The recipe is simple:

2 tablespoons dry yeast dissolved in ½ cup warm water
3 cups warm water
¼ cup shortening
1 tablespoon salt
½ cup sugar
1 to 4 eggs (optional)

Dissolve yeast in water.

Combine yeast, water, sugar, salt, shortening, and eggs. Add 3 cups of flour, then stir 200 times without reversing direction. Let sit 20 minutes.

Add flour one cup at a time until dough is kneadable. Do this slowly; the flour needs time to absorb water and if you add too much your bread will be dry. Knead the bread for 10 minutes, and then let it rise for an hour.

Shape the dough into four loaves and let rise until they are large. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Test one loaf with a probe-type thermometer; done is 190 degrees in the middle of a loaf that was in the middle of the oven. Turn out of the pans to cool.

My standard flour is a combination of whole wheat bread flour and white flour. I use 3 or 4 cups of whole wheat to start the recipe and white flour to finish. (My usual plot is to use as much whole grain flour as my family will eat without thinking that I am serving them “health food’.) Substituting one cup of semolina flour in the beginning makes the dough easier to knead.

Stone-Ground Whole Wheat Bread Flour from Great River Milling is a nice choice( Semolina flour can be found at Bob’s Red Mill: (

Tomorrow I will talk about the my bread baking equipment.

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