The Staff of Life

20 Nov

I love to cook. Very little comes into our house “pre-made”, although I must admit I draw the line at making my own pasta. Been there; done that. No “instant this”, or “instant that” crosses our threshold.

But of all the things I make, bread is our favorite. Back when I was still working full time, I made bread three times a week, by hand. It’s great anger management therapy! Knead that dough! Flip, flop. Beat ’em and bang ’em. One for you and one for your ugly brother. And your little dog, too. (Wait! That’s another story.) I got to beat people up and had something to show for it when I was done. I have dozens of recipes;  I once sent The Squire to the office every day for a month – twenty working days – with a different kind of bread every time. White bread. Whole wheat bread. Onion-dill. Cheese bread. Beer-rye. Since each batch makes two loaves I was giving the excess to the girls in my carpool, but they stopped taking them, as their husbands wanted to know why they didn’t make bread, too.

But this one is our favorite, hands down.

1-1/2 cups milk                                                                                                                                   1/4 cup honey                                                                                                                                     1/4 cup butter                                                                                                                                        2 eggs                                                                                                                                                        2 teaspoons salt                                                                                                                                     5 cups white flour (I prefer unbleached)                                                                                         1 package yeast                                                                                                                                     2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten, if desired (optional, but it makes the bread more “manageable”.

The girls gave me a bread machine about ten years after I retired, and I admit I use it now all the time, but you can do this the “old fashioned” way as well. If you know how to make bread you don’t need me to tell you the “let rise, punch down” jazz. In fact, I got this recipe from a Betty Crocker cook book, published many years before bread machines existed.  You can use almost any recipe that calls for less than six cups of flour in your machine without any changes.

Warm the milk, honey and butter in the microwave until warm – the butter does not need to melt. Add other ingredients as listed; your flour and salt should not meet until the bread is started, as salt will kill the yeast before it has a chance to work.   I use the “Dough” setting on my machine, turn out the dough, and shape it into two 1-1/2 pound loaves  and place in 9 x 5 pans. Bake at 350ºF for about thirty minutes, or until it reaches 190º internally. Do not insert the thermometer too early, or it will drag the loaf down; bake twenty minutes and then insert the probe and leave it until the alarm sounds. Turn out of the pans and brush with butter immediately to keep the crust soft. (I just unwrap the end of a stick of butter and run it over the bread.)

Good stuff! And smells divine!

(I have NO idea why the ingredients are spread across the page that way. I typed them in a straight line!)








One Response to “The Staff of Life”

  1. Kim Cogswell November 23, 2019 at 4:31 pm #

    I kind of like the layout! I use a tablespoon of salt for two loaves and haven’t killed the yeast yet.

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