(Mandan – an edited version of a post I wrote sometime in March before I had to move out of my house)
I’m not sure where he gets it, but my Uncle Eddie does a lot of gardening, baking and cooking. Ed and Alice also have a lot of the family history. In the winter, they travel to Texas for about three months or so.
They leave here in December usually after we have a wonderful Christmas feast with the local cousins. I received about three updates from their trip and all are about food.
Lately, I have been making bread once a week, usually Saturdays. I love bread and I love to make it from scratch. I have an assortment of organic flours from the Harvey Mill and experiment. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but nothing beats a toasted piece of homemade bread with some all-fruit jam, or maybe an egg from Morning Joy Farms.
So in his next email, Uncle Ed sent me a scanned note. He said his wife, Alice, received this note from Aunt Katie Meidinger in 1989. Wow, that sounds like a long time ago…. but it’s not really – my son was born in 1986. I don’t think I know who Aunt Katie is, but with the last name she has, I can be pretty sure, we are related to her somehow too… but that’s another story.
Yesterday was such a beautiful day, even though we didn’t need any bread, I decided to try this recipe. I had a tough time reading it, but here’s what I got out of it. First off, “it’s fool proof.” I liked that. First, I boiled a white potato, because it’s the only one I had in a quart of water. When it was soft and falling apart, I put it through my potato ricer and added another quart of water, 2.5 teaspoons of yeast and 1/2 cup sugar. Allow the yeast to dissolve and then add four cups of flour. As per the note, I use Dakota Maid flour, albeit this was bread flour, which wasn’t really necessary.
While that proofed for 15 minutes, I cleaned the rest of my bedroom carpet. Then, I added sea salt and two tablespoons shortening and more flour… if I remember correctly about 6 cups, maybe 7. Kneading after each cup or so… eventually I was able to scoop it out of the bowl and work on the butcher block. Of course, the more I pushed the more this giant blob of dough pushed back. Apparently I have lost some upper body strength since I gave up weaving and went to working on a computer…. bummer. But, I finally won.
The recipe said the dough should be fairly stiff, and I don’t think I made it quite stiff enough, nor did I allow it to sufficiently rise twice before shaping loaves; I was in a hurry cause I was running out of time to get to church for my small group…. so next time I will slow it down a bit. Longer slower rising times are better for bread, and that was an article I also received from Uncle Ed this past winter. It was very interesting about rapid rise yeast.
I left the final baking to my husband who worked in a bakery. And this is what I came home to… Yes, indeed, five lovely loaves of wonderful white bread. Crunchy brown on the outside and soft and fluffy inside. I had to have a piece with Black Current Jam. Delightful. So, yes, I will be trying this recipe again. A little closer to Easter, I will have to make Easter Bread. The kind with the candied fruit and white icing… another family favorite.
Our daily bread is a gift from God. In thankfulness we accept our lives each day and the joy as well as the sorrow life brings keeping in mind that our Heavenly Father will provide what we ask of him – in his time and as part of his plan. Such a sense of peace to be able to turn your life over to someone who cares deeply for me… I wish you such peace today, not our kind, but His. Now, who wants bread? Oh, I almost forgot…. the last words on the note read: PPS: Someone once said bread dough is like a baby, keep it warm and you’ll have great results.