For 2 reasons:
- I'm following in the footsteps of my bread-making mom.
- This has become such an ingrained part of my weekly rhythm of life, I thought I'd share it with you. We received a bread maker as a gift many years ago, and that started our appreciation for fresh bread. It broke down after many years of good use, and while we were investigating repair costs and time, I found a recipe for bread from scratch. We loved it, making minor adjustments over the years.
Add 1 cup of quick oats to 1 cup boiling water, stir, and let it sit. In the meantime ...
In a very large bowl, combine:
3 cups white flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. yeast
2 Tbsp. sugar
some salt (I add a few shakes - less than 1 Tbsp.)
1/2 cup (more or less!) cornmeal
In a 4 cup measuring cup, combine
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup honey
1 cup oil (part of the cup can be leftover bacon grease from Friday's pizza night)
Stir it up till all is liquid, and add another 1 1/2 cups water
Add liquid to the dry ingrediants in the large bowl
1 cup water
oatmeal/water mix that you started with
Also add this liquid to very large bowl of ingredients and stir it all up with a wooden spoon.
Keep adding flour, a cup or two at a time, and stirring ... till it's too sticky to stir (about 6 cups more ... I alternate whole wheat and white flour, but any combination will do, depending on how you like it).
Sprinkle some flour onto the counter, scrape the dough out of the very large bowl, and start mixing with your hands. I use the official "fold and punch" method :). Fold the dough in 1/2, punch it down, turn it 1/4 turn, fold and punch again. Too sticky? Add more flour (1/2 cup at a time). Fold and punch some more. Once the dough isn't sticky any more, and starts to show cracks in it when you fold, don't add more flour. Just keep folding and punching till it shapes into a nice ball. Throw it into a larger bowl or pot with a lid, and put it into the oven (not turned on) for about an hour. More if you want to. The dough's not very fussy. If you leave it alone for too long, it'll rise too far, and start to push up the lid of the pot. No problem - just punch it down again, and it'll keep rising. An hour is usually good though.
Spray 5 bread pans with oil, and sprinkle them with flour. Cut the dough into 5 similarly sized pieces, and then shape them into loaf shapes, slapping and slamming the dough onto the counter to get rid of air bubbles. Works well when slightly frustrated about something! Dough doesn't mind at all.
Cover the bread with plastic while it rises another hour or so (not too long this time, or it'll creep out of the pans), and then put it into the oven at 350 for about 23 minutes [how's that for specific? no idea how much actual flour I use, but it's a definite 23 minutes till done in my oven!].
Let it sit on the counter for 15 minutes or so before sliding a knife around the side and shaking the loaves out of the pans. Leave the loaves on a baking rack till fully cooled before putting them into plastic bags. Or cut them while fresh, and have them with strawberry jam, or honey and butter.