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Grandma’s bread

Posted by Erika

Growing up there was always something baking at Grandma’s house.  The one recipe of her’s that still to this day brings back some of the best memories was her bread. She grew up on a cattle ranch and from an early age would help her mom make bread for the family. As you can imagine making something over and over again leads to never needing a recipe. Honestly not sure if there ever was an original recipe when she learned how to make it. I know that I never saw her use one but it always turned out the same or close to it.  So when I graduated high school I went over to her house so she could teach me how to make it seeing how I was getting married a couple of months after this and she wanted to make sure I knew how to make a good bread. I took my computer to help document it and after explaining what a computer program was to her we got started.  My original recipe for this has some cherished instructions like “grandma’s sized handful of sugar” but I tried to make it more user-friendly for those that do not know the size of my grandma’s hands.

I should add that this recipe is egg free and very versatile, I have been known to add cheese and jalapeno peppers to the dough before baking, or mixing in cinnamon a little bit of sugar and raisins to make raisin bread. At Christmas, a favorite is to mix in dried fruit and those red and green candied cherries, bake and top with a basic sugar glaze.

Ingredients:

Part 1

  • half cup warm water
  • 1 packet of quick rise yeast
  • 1/4 cup of sugar (can substitute honey or fruit juice)

Part 2

  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • water
  • instant nonfat dry milk
  • 1 Tbsp. salt

Part 3

  • 5 pound bag of flour
  • 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • wax paper

Total cook time is all day. It usually takes a day that we don’t have as much going on, start it around 9 am and am done in time to have fresh rolls or bread with dinner that night. It mostly depends on the temperature, if it is warmer the dough will rise faster. The batch I made in the images are were from a larger batch, the loaves turned out shorter than normal, I probably could have made only 4 loaves to end up with a taller bread than I did this time.

Directions:

  1. Take a large mixing bowl (this will be the bowl that everything will be eventually rising in so make sure it is big enough to hold the amount you are planning to make). Add the warm water, yeast, and sugar to bowl, gently stir till the sugar is dissolved and set aside to let the yeast activate.
  2. Grab a medium-sized saucepan and fill it about halfway with water, add the powdered milk till it looks about like 2% milk. Add the butter and salt. place on a burner on low and warm up only until the salt has dissolved and the butter has melted.  remove from heat as soon as the butter has melted. you can kill the yeast if it is too hot. you should be able to stick your finger in the mixture and it should feel a smidge warmer than the water you used for the yeast mixture.
  3. Once you can visibly see that the yeast has been doing its thing, slowly add the milk mixture to the yeast.
    Make sure you see bubbles or some sort of change in the yeast, if not then the yeast is bad and you will need to start that part over, inactive yeast will equal to bread as dense as bricks.

  4. Now for the not so amount specific part. the amount of flour you add depends on the amount of water you started with for the milk mixture. I like to start with 3-4 cups of flour, mix it in with a big spoon and then add only 1 to 2 cups of flour at a time till it is a thick sticky dough.
  5. Flour a working area for kneading the dough. dump the dough onto the floured area and knead till the dough bounces back at you when you quickly push into it with a finger (I call this the finger bounce check).
  6. Add about 2-3 Tablespoons of olive oil to the bottom of the previously used mixing bowl, grab the dough ball and set it on top of the oil, twist around so it gets covered with oil then flip it so the previously bottom side of the dough is now on top, all of the dough should be coated with the oil. cover with a piece of wax paper and let rise to double its size.
  7. Once doubled in size punch down to pop all of the bubbles. Cover and let rise again.
  8. Pull out all of your bread pans or a muffin tin in case you are making some rolls. Grease with your preferred choice. I use bacon grease when i have it. that is what my Grandma used and gives it an extra yummy flavor on the crust.
  9. Once the dough has risen again take proper amounts for your pans and roll them with your hands to get a smooth top, hold the dough roll by the bottom and like the freshly kneaded dough put the top side into the grease then flip it over so the smooth side is now on top. My original instructions literally say, roll the dough like grandma showed you. If you do not understand it with the pictures do not worry, just get the dough into the pans however you feel comfortable doing, it will still taste the same. cover the pans and let rise for about an hour. 
  10. Once they have risen a bit more, place the pans in an oven heated to 400 degrees and bake for about 35 minutes, 25 minutes for rolls. As with all baking, ovens sometimes heat differently so keep an eye on it as sometimes they can take shorter or longer to bake. 
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