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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Bread Baking

For many, many years Dave and I have made our own bread and I couldn't tell you when we last purchased a loaf of bread.  The basic white bread recipe that we use was given to me by my dad. My dad baked bread most Saturday's of my childhood, making a weeks worth of loaves for the family. I started to make bread in my early twenties, but not very often, and at first it did not turn out so well. Over time I started to have more consistent results with my bread making, but still it was something that I did once in a while, we still purchased a lot of bread as we had four growing children at home, believe me we went through a lot of bread each week. My husband started to get interested in the process and decided to try the recipe, his first batch turned out very well  and he has baked bread ever since. Dave is home more in the winter and tends to take care of the bread making during the winter months, and I tend to take care of it in the warmer months. Usually when we bake bread we make two batches for ten loaves this keeps us going for a couple of weeks.We have pretty consistently made our own bread for about fifteen years. I sometimes make oatmeal bread for a change, I will post the recipe another day.

Basic White Bread

2 T dry yeast
2T salt
4T shortening
6T sugar
4 1/2 cups warm water - 110 -115 degrees F
10 - 12 cups of water

Yield 5 loaves, or 4 LARGE loaves
Place, yeast, salt, shortening, and sugar into a large mixing bowl, add the warm water, stir, let stand for five minutes or so, yeast will be nice and foamy.

Add 8 cups of flour, stir in, it will be a big goopy, sticky mess.
Add 2 cups of flour, and dump the entire mixture onto the counter.

Have another cup of flour handy, start kneading the bread, by pulling up the side and pushing it into the middle, turn pull up the side and push into the middle, turn and repeat for about ten minutes. Withing a minute or two you will have a much more manageable dough, keep sprinkling the counter with the extra flour so that the dough doesn't stick, keep kneading. After about ten minutes the dough will feel different, kind of clammy, elastic, and smooth. Use a little shortening to grease the mixing bowl, take the dough and rub it in the bowl to grease the bottom, then invert the dough (greased side is now up), cover the bowl with a dish towel and let sit for 40 - 50 minutes to rise.

Once the dough has risen, dump it out onto the counter, let it rest a minute, then divide into four or five parts, depending upon how many loaves you desire. Roll each portion out into a rectangle, then fold the ends in so that the rectangle is now 1/3 of the original size, then roll up and pinch ends and place in the bread pan. Cover the bread pans with a dish towel and leave the loaves to rise for an hour to an hour and a half.

Heat the oven to 420, bake the loaves, up to three at a time, for 22 minutes.  Remove each loaf from its pan immediately, sit the loaf sideways across the top of the pan and allow to cool.

Bread Makers Treat!

Glorious Sunrise

I was up early this morning getting the bread going, and was privileged to view a stunning sunrise, I grabbed my camera and took a couple of pictures. I am glad I took the pictures immediately, because within five minutes the glorious golden light was gone and it was just an ordinary early morning again, but for just a few minutes it was truly enchanting.

View to the west, the camera really captured the strange light.

View to the east - spectacular!

Few to the west a minute or two after the first picture already the light had changed .


 Well when you have a lot of cabbage what else can you do but make sauerkraut. I now have twenty-five pounds of shredded cabbage fermenting in a bucket in the kitchen. It will start to smell a little rank around here in a few days, but we will have to put up with it for 4 - 6 weeks, then I will can the sauerkraut and the house will smell a whole lot better :)

Shredding the cabbage, thank heavens for my trusty old food processor, it made quick work of shredding all that cabbage.

The cabbage breaks down very quickly, I have twenty-five pounds of shredded cabbage in the bucket.

All you need to make sauerkraut is a food grade bucket, cabbage and salt. Shred five pounds of cabbage, mix it with 3 T of salt, let sit for five or so minutes, then put in the bucket and press until water begins to pull out of the cabbage. Continue on, five pounds at a time. When the final batch of cabbage is packed into the bucket the water should be over the cabbage. Place a layer of cheesecloth over the cabbage, then add a plate for a weight, this makes sure that the cabbage remains submerged, you can add a weight if necessary. Put the lid on the bucket, not tightly, just sit it on top. Leave for 4 - 6 weeks, daily skim the scum from the top. This is the only recipe I have ever read that tells me to skim the scum daily!!  Once the sauerkraut is ready, pack into quart jars and process in a hot water canner.  Yummy, so good with pork roast and mashed potato, or bratwurst. I did not have sauerkraut until I met my husband, he loves the stuff, I learned to like it, at first I just like the taste of pork cooked in sauerkraut, but now I love the stuff too.

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