Homemade Bread~Easy as Pie!
By Victoria Ries
There's nothing more tempting than the aroma of hot, fresh homemade bread straight from the oven! Spread it with butter, jam, jelly or whatever takes your fancy, and you'll be coming back for more - so will everyone else - make plenty!
Nearly 12,000 years ago, in Neolithic times, coarsely crushed grain mixed with water was laid on heated stones, and baked in hot ashes - the birth of flat breads, which are still part of everyday fare in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Discovery of naturally fermenting wheat dough's by the Egyptians, produced a light, airy loaf similar to those of today. Egyptians are credited with developing the first baking ovens.
The following recipe has been a favorite of my family since my 26 year-old son, was a toddler. I've sold bread to earn extra cash when times were hard - this recipe, in particular, was a hot seller!
If you've never made bread before - please try this recipe, it's virtually foolproof. My ten year-old daughter made this bread recipe for the first time, it was absolutely delicious! So don't be put off - if a child can make it, so can you!
You will need:
1 large mixing bowl
1 large spoon
1 tablespoon measure
1 large mug or glass for proving the yeast
Greased baking pans
5-lb bag of all purpose or bread flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1-tablespoon vegetable shortening; lard or bacon grease
1 cup of cold milk
3 cups of boiling water
1 package of dry yeast
In a large mug or glass, pour about four fluid ounces of almost hot water - not too hot as it will kill the yeast. Add a small pinch of sugar and the package of yeast. Stir and set aside to "work."
In a large mixing bowl place the salt, sugar and shortening. Add three cups of boiling water and stir until dissolved. Add the milk. Stir.
Check the yeast, it should be bubbly and almost to the top of the glass. Add to the milk mixture in the large mixing bowl and stir well to distribute the yeast evenly.
Add flour a cup at a time and stir well after each addition. When the dough becomes too difficult to stir with the spoon, start balling it up with your hands. Add enough flour to keep your hands from sticking to the dough - don't overdo the flour - it will make the bread hard! Keep the dough the consistency of a marshmallow. You won't need to use the whole bag of flour!
I knead this dough within the bowl (it will still come out perfectly!). Knead the dough until it is smooth and soft - about seven minutes. The sides of the bowl should be clean. You will know the dough is ready for the first rising, when you can poke your finger into it and the hole springs back at you.
Grease the dough all over with a used margarine wrapper; place in original bowl and cover with a paper towel. Set in a warm place near the wood stove or in an airing cupboard - a temperature of 85 degrees is ideal.
When the dough has doubled its bulk - punch down and knead it again but don't add more flour. Divide your dough into balls, for rolls; long "sausages" for a braid and place in greased baking pans or place formed dough into loaf pans. You can even roll some of the dough out to make a pizza crust at this stage!
Cover your shaped loaves again with paper towels and set in a warm place for the second rising.
When your dough has risen, bake in a 400-degree oven for about twenty minutes, until golden brown. The bread will be done when it makes a "hollow" sound when tapped on the bottom of the loaf with your knuckles.
On removing your loaves from the oven, grease all sides of the bread crust with butter, margarine or shortening. Leave to cool on a rack - if you can wait that long!
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