Butter Together: Knead a loaf if you need a loaf

 

Amelia Plair

Amelia Plair

 

 

Amelia Plair

 

 

There is only one type of bread our child with allergies can safely eat, so when COVID panic began setting in and grocery store shelves began to empty, I knew that it was only a matter of time before I'd need to begin making our own bread for daily use.

 

I've never given y'all a recipe for homemade bread before because I always assumed no one except me was making bread. I'm sure that used to be true.

 

But in the past few days, I've begun getting requests for bread recipes, as my friends' stores of sliced bread began to dwindle. I imagine that many of you face the same problem.

 

 

It would appear that this is the moment I've been waiting for.

 

The truth is, bread making is one of those fortunately/unfortunately things. Unfortunately, it is time-consuming. Fortunately, most of that time is hands off, so the actual effort you must put forth is pretty minimal, especially if you have a stand mixer or bread machine that can do the kneading for you.

 

Also fortunately, this particular recipe makes three 4 1/2 -by-8 1/2-inch loaves, and bread freezes beautifully. So you can make this recipe once and have enough bread for your family for a couple of weeks.

 

If you are a small household or you don't eat much bread, try slicing it into slices before you put it into a freezer-quality ziptop bag to freeze. That way, you can extract just as much as you need and thaw or toast it quickly for breakfast or sides.

 

I know that the supply of bread flour is dwindling in most grocery stores, so I chose a recipe that calls for all-purpose flour. It also calls for evaporated milk, which you likely have in your pantry because at some point it seemed like a good thing to have on hand. If you don't, though, you can substitute regular milk. The fat in the milk keeps the bread soft, which is nice for sandwiches. But it's not absolutely necessary, which means you can use all water if you need to.

 

This recipe is from the King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook. It appeared on the back of bags of King Arthur flour in the 1970s and '80s. I've given extra instructions here to help those who have not baked much bread.

 

Amelia Plair is a mom and high school teacher in Starkville. Email reaches her at mamabadgerplair@gmail.com.

 

 

NATURALLY GREAT LOAF OF BREAD

 

 

2 cups warm water

 

1 (5 1/2 ounce) can evaporated milk or 3/4 cup regular milk

 

1/3 cup oil or melted margarine

 

1/4 cup honey or sugar

 

2 Tablespoons or 2 packets active dry yeast

 

7 to 8 cups all-purpose flour

 

1 tablespoon salt

 

 

  • Pour the water, milk and oil or margarine into a saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat until lukewarm. You can test the temperature by spooning a drop or two onto the inside of your wrist. It should feel comfortably warm but not hot, about the temperature of bathwater for a baby.

     

  • Pour the warmed liquid into a mixing bowl; I use the bowl of my stand mixer. Add the honey or sugar, yeast, and two cups of the flour. Finally, add the salt. (Add the salt last because salt can kill off yeast if they come in direct contact.)

     

  • Beat the mixture for 2 minutes by hand or using the dough paddle of the stand mixer. Continue to add flour and mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. If you are using a stand mixer, continue to mix until the dough is smooth and springy, about 8 to 10 minutes. If you are not using a stand mixer, dump the dough out onto a clean, floured countertop or cutting board and knead until the dough is smooth and springy. (This will take about 10 to 12 minutes, and it's a good way to get out some quarantine aggression.)

     

  • Wash out the mixing bowl, dry, and pour about a tablespoon of oil into it. Place the ball of dough into the bowl and then flop it over so the dough is covered in oil. Cover with a damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 to 1/2 hours, until doubled in size.

     

  • Punch the dough down with your fist to break up pockets of gas. (This is a great time to let your kids help.) Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Flatten each piece with your hands and roll tightly from one end to the other, cinnamon roll style. Turn the loaf so the seam is on the bottom. Tuck the two ends under the loaf so you have a smooth, loaf-shaped product. Place each log, seam-side down, into its own greased loaf pan.

     

  • Preheat oven to 375 F (or 350 if you are using dark or coated pans).

     

  • Cover the pans and let them rise until doubled; in most kitchens, this will take roughly 30 minutes, but you should go by the dough and not the clock. The highest point of the bread should be about an inch over the top of the pan. (If you aren't good at estimating measurement, the first section of your finger, from fingertip to first knuckle, is about an inch.)

     

  • Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes. When in doubt, tap the bottom of the pan. If it sounds hollow, it's done.

     

  • Dump bread out of pans immediately. Place on cooling racks to cool completely. Eat some and freeze some. (Don't forget to slice it before freezing if you want to be able to use just a little at a time.)

     

    Spread some butter on a slice and relish the feeling of becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder for a day.

     

     

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