The past several days here have been bitterly cold, snow on the ground and frost on every tree. It makes for beautiful mornings and great days for baking, sewing, plotting out our spring gardens........countless things! Yesterday we made our usual bread for the week and I finally had the time to take pictures of the process to share it with you. This recipe is an old Amish recipe that I got directly from an Amish bishop here in our neck of the woods. For some reason, his still tastes better than mine, but its still the best bread I've ever made. He hand grinds his wheat, which I am not able to do until we get our mill.....if you're reading this honey....by spring would be nice! Other than that, I make it the same way he does.
Gather your ingredients...
- 2 cups white flour
- 2/3 cup white sugar
- 1 handful of salt (my handful isn't as big as his so I use about 4 tsp and its good)
- 2 packages of yeast (or 2 Teaspoons but note the picture with the size of the teaspoon)
- 3/4 cup lard (we use pig lard but you can also use oil or shortening)
- 2 quarts of warm water
- 3 cups whole wheat
You will add more flour as you go until it isn't sticky, about 3 more cups or so, you have to just figure as you go.
Now the smaller spoon pictured here is a regular table spoon, the larger spoon is the one we use for measuring the yeast. You don't need a large serving spoon, just something in between a serving spoon and a regular spoon.
I put the ingredients into the bread maker in the order of the liquids first and then the dry ingredients, yeast last on top. Make an indention in the top of the flour, big enough to contain your yeast. I don't know if this is necessary, it's just a habit I have.
If you decide to use a bread maker for half of this recipe at a time like I do, just set your bread maker on the dough cycle, otherwise mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, continuing to add flour until the dough isn't sticky and then knead it.
I usually leave the lid to the bread maker open during this first mixing part to add flour about a half a cup at a time. These next few pictures are a bit fuzzy due to the mixing of the machine, please excuse that. you can see in the first picture that it is still runny so I'm adding more flour.
Here you can see the dough beginning to form and pull away from the bowl, I'm still adding a half cup of flour at a time. It mixes in pretty quickly.
Here the dough has formed a firm ball and has pulled away from the edges. It is still a bit too sticky, but I go ahead and turn it into a bowl.
This dough is still too sticky, I can really tell now that it's in the bowl.
This time I add just one more half cup of flour, knead it slightly and the dough transforms into...
I let the dough rise for about an hour or so in front of the fireplace with a dish towel over it. It should almost double in size. At that time, I'll punch it down and then let it rise again for another hour or so.
Now the dough gets turned out onto the counter and divided, placed into greased bread pans and let rise one more time. Only let it rise till it is barely over the bread pans, otherwise you might get too much air in your bread. I know some people poke holes in the tops of the dough to release the air before this rising step, I don't bother with that.
Bake at 350 degrees for about half an hour or so.
This batch isn't the prettiest batch I've ever made, but it is soft, hearty and delicious with soft crusts even without buttering the tops! It's delicious smothered in homemade butter straight from the cow!
I've tried to explain my process in detail, but when you do something so often, you tend to forget little things others may need to know. If I have done that, please let me know and I'll gladly fill in anything I've left out :o)
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