Lost Arts studio

A lot of the fiber arts I enjoy are things like tatting, netmaking, chair caning, and even weaving, where people will come up to me when I demonstrate and solemnly tell me, "That's a lost art."

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Location: SW Outer Nowhere, Michigan, United States

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27 October 2005

Mom's basic bread recipe

I probably spend way too much time on the Sher boards http://www.barbarasher.com/boards/index.php
an online forum for Barbara Sher readers. But today I posted my mom's bread recipe, and thought why not share it here, too?

Mom's basic bread recipe

Straight from the floury and slightly grease-stained recipe card

Ingredients
2 cups water or other warm liquid
1 Tablespoon (= 1 packet) bread yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp salt
1 egg
1/4 cup melted shortening
4 - 6 cups flour

Directions (straight from my head)
Dissolve yeast and sugar in the water. Stir in the first two cups of flour. Add the other ingredients (salt, egg, shortening). Add remaining flour one cup at a time. At first stir, then knead. The kneaded dough should feel about like your earlobe and not be too sticky.

Grease or oil a bowl large enough to hold the dough after it rises. Put the dough in the bowl, cover, and put in a warm clean spot for about 30 minutes. (First rise). The dough should approximately double in bulk.

Grease two bread pans, making sure to get the corners and the top edge. Punch down the dough (WHACK!) right in the middle and turn it out on a clean countertop. Roll it out flat with a rolling pin. Cut into two approximately equal pieces, roll each piece into a sticky little loaf shape and put them into their pans. Put the pans (uncovered) into your warm clean rising spot, again about 30 minutes. (Second rise)

Once the bread has risen, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. (If you used the oven for raising the bread, take the dough OUT while the oven heats.) After the oven is hot, put the pans in the oven for 30 minutes. When the time is up, turn the hot bread out of the pans onto a cooling rack, and cover with a clean dishtowel while they cool.

Alteration, improvisation, and discussion

You can substitute dry milk powder (1-2 Tbsp) for the egg. You can use milk instead of water. If you use beer instead of water, I scald and cool it (don't want to boil the yeast) so it doesn't inhibit the bread yeast.

If you are on a restricted sodium diet, yes, you can reduce the salt. For the shortening, you can use butter, margarine, or oil. You can use all or part whole wheat flour: more will give a coarser texture and nuttier flavor to the bread. You can add in whole oatmeal or some rice flour. Corn meal will stay quite hard in bread, but you can shake it into your greased pans for nice crust.

If you don't have a rolling pin, you can use a bottle. No bread pans? Make two round "cottage loaves" on a cookie sheet.

A great discussion of the ins and outs of baking bread is in Mollie Katzen's "The Enchanted Broccoli Forest". She says "It is assumed you have no deadline, and were planning, anyway, to spend a chunk of time puttering around at home, intermittently playing with dough." This is a good philosophy for bread baking!

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