Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Need to Knead

I've had a real urge to bake some bread lately. There was a day when you would never find any bread in my house that wasn't homemade, but I've gotten a little lazy in recent years and fallen out of the habit. However, methinks it's time to get back into it. There's nothing that makes a house smell better than bread baking and surely nothing that can compare taste-wise to a slice of fresh, warm, homemade bread just out of the oven and slathered with butter. (Oh, be still, my heart.)

Of course, now that I can almost see the ol' yeast and warm water foaming in the bottom of my bread bowl, I want to make about six different kinds right away. Well, gotta decide what to start with first so I've pulled out my bread recipe cards.

No sense asking Roy for his preference because he'll say, "Rye!" Rye bread (in just about any shape or form . . . or recipe) is his all-time favorite. Here's an old, old recipe photocopied from a cookbook that is labeled simply Rye Bread. In a line over that, many years ago, I wrote "Roy's Favorite." This is the same recipe that our daughter made as an entry in her Science Fair umpteen years ago when she was in third grade. (You know, the action of yeast, and all that.) She made the bread all by herself and handed out samples at the Fair. I happened to overhear one parent comment that it was the best bread he'd ever tasted. No surprise that she's still a good bread baker.

Then there's the 100% Whole Wheat Bread. We went through a period when my husband felt we shouldn't be using ANY white flour in anything we consumed so it was a real challenge to find a bread recipe that would rise adequately without the addition of white flour. This recipe does indeed have only whole wheat flour in it and, lo and behold, does rise to form nice, high loaves. Good flavor, too.

Another rye bread. Casserole Swedish Rye bread. Can't tell you how many times I've made this one in a pinch when I didn't have time to make a regular kneaded yeast bread. You just mix it up, let it rise for a total of an hour's time (no kneading required) and bake. Nice flavor, nice texture, easy.

A Black Bread modified from "Laurel's Kitchen." Lordy, lordy, there was a period in the 80s when I don't think I cooked or baked anything that wasn't from this revered cookbook. Yep, we were pretty strict vegetarians for a period of about fifteen years. Probably ruined our daughter to a certain extent. Not nutritionally, as I was super-careful about that, but to this day, she has trouble eating meat because the texture is so unpleasant for her. But back to the bread. My notation on this Black Bread recipe reads, "Especially good for breakfast with eggs, etc. Makes good French toast. A bit too sweet for sandwiches.”

I have a hard cover book "Pillsbury's Bake Off Breads Cook Book" from 1968 that has seen such extensive use that it's held together with a big rubber band because so many of the pages are flapping loose and falling out. I've gotten innumerable great recipes from this book: Scandinavian Rye, Crusty French, Two-Tone Loaves (putzy and a lot of work but spectacular looking), Country Fair Egg Bread, Dilly Casserole Bread, and luscious Dark Orange Raisin Bread. Makes a slice of toast to die for. I gave loaves of it as Christmas gifts one year and got lots of complimentary feedback.

Back in my recipe box, Swedish Rye Bread Supreme. (Gotta keep that man happy.) Although this one isn't labeled his favorite, I like to make it because it makes a nice, high loaf which is always a challenge when using rye flour which seems happier imitating a stone rather than rising into a normal looking loaf.

Cinnamon Twist Bread. When we were first married Pepperidge Farm used to make a cinnamon bread that was downright yummy. (This was in the dark ages when commercial bread actually had flavor.) I've always been partial to cinnamon bread and this recipe makes a couple of delicious loaves,spicy with pungent cinnamon (no raisins in my cinnamon bread, thank you) and especially decadent with white vanilla frosting drizzled over the top.

The recipe for Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Bread has a couple of oat flakes cemented to it. Obviously, it's been used a lot. Bread made with the recipe has been eaten a lot, too.

Cocoa in my Heidelberg Rye can't be tasted, but definitely adds a lovely coloring and something special to this bread. Roy's not crazy about my Cream of Tomato Soup but if I make garlic croutons out of this bread to sprinkle in a bowl, the soup disappears.

When I was growing up, my mom bought Potato Rolls at a corner bakery that she used when making leftover ham sandwiches. My recipe for Old-Fashioned Potato Loaves reminds me of those rolls. Heavy and moist.

I like to have a couple of loaves of Italian Bread in the freezer to make up into garlic-cheese bread to serve with lasagna or spaghetti. The recipe makes two good sized loaves but I form the dough into four smaller loaves because each little loaf then serves two people nicely. If it's just the two of us eating, one small loaf does it. If we have another couple eating with us, each couple can have their own loaf.

Yummy, moist, good! This bread, Poppy Seed Batter Bread, is wonderful in egg salad sandwiches. Another no-knead bread that can be whipped up quickly. Makes me think of a friend whose son is a pilot and has to submit to random drug testing by the company he flies for. He loves a poppy seed cake his mom makes and once when she was visiting, she made his favorite cake which he proceeded to devour a good half of the night before a surprise testing. He failed the test. Just goes to show you, be careful when you consume your poppy seeds.

Well, believe it or not, there are more bread recipes but I think the above will give me enough to choose from. Now if I were a good blogger and ambitious, I'd bake a sample to picture with each recipe talked about. Nuh -uh, ain't gonna happen. But I am going to get out the yeast and pummel some dough into submission real soon. (No, I've never had a bread machine. I'm just not a gadget kind of gal. Give me a wooden spoon and stand back.) But stay tuned. Maybe there will be a picture or two coming up. Ya never know.


RuthieJ said...

Geez, Mama Pea, I'm drooling all over my keyboard! I love bread! We were on the Atkins diet for about 18 months a few years back, and I lost 25 lbs, but I missed bread so much that I finally ditched that diet. Unfortunately, I've never gotten into making my own bread, but never turn down offerings of homemade bread from other marvelous bakers (will you swap a loaf for some venison jerky?)

Mama Pea said...

Hi, Ruthie - I love bread, too. Other than the taste of the Poppy Seed and rye I haven't had any since the first of the year. Is it doing me any good? Not my disposition, that's for sure.

Swap bread for jerky? SURE! Matter of fact, I have some questions re your jerky gun and jerky that I'm going to e-mail you about.

MaineCelt said...

This post is absolutely maddening-- I LOVE bread, but I'm allergic to yeast! It's a legacy of my Pacific Northwest childhood, in a house where the basement flooded several times a year. Aged cheese, yeast breads, wine and beer are all on my avoidance list. On the other hand, I seem to do just fine with single-malt whisky,'s distilled. This has also driven me to develop a pretty good hand at quickbreads. Whisky and soda bread, anyone?

Mama Pea said...

Hey, MaineCelt - A while back I was on a horrendously limited diet and couldn't have yeast either. My mainstay bread substitute was oatcakes. I'll e-mail you the recipe in the hopes that you'll like them, too.

MaineCelt said...

OATCAKES!!! The only person who likes oatcakes more than me (maybe) is The Bagpiper. I can't wait to make a batch from your recipe! Now that our power's back, (the gas stove's oven has one of those new-fangled electric ignitions), I think I'll inaugurate it with a tray or two of these splended Scottish treats.


Mama Pea said...

Hey, MaineCelt - Glad to hear you got the recipe. Hope they turn out for you. I've gotta make a batch soon. I've been hungry for egg salad and I love it on an oatcake.

Our gas oven has one of those electric ignitors, too. Did you know when the power is off you can light the oven burner with a match (or better one of those long butane lighters)? Just to be safe, I always do it with help. Somebody prone on the floor with the fire stick and somebody to turn on the gas.

elizabeth said...

Were you referring to the "Boston Brown Bread" in Laurel's Kitchen? I noticed they say to cook steam the bread in cans and I've never made it. Did you adapt it for the oven? How do you cook it?
Thank you!

Mama Pea said...

lHi, Elizabeth! Nope, the Black Bread I referred to was actually a recipe in Laurel's Kitchen labeled "Black Bread." It appears on page 93 of my old book. I've never converted a recipe for real Boston Brown Bread that is baked in cans (kinda steamed) to regular baking. Wonder if it would still turn out so nice and moist?

elizabeth said...

I guess the black bread wasn't included in "The New" Laurel's Kitchen, but I found a recipe for Ukrakian Black Bread online. I'll give it a try. Lots of time for bread baking during the winter here in Montana.

You have many recipes on your blog that I can't wait to try, especially the walnut clusters and apple slices. Sounds like there may be a lot of cursing involved while handling the apple slices dough!

elizabeth said...

I make a lot of jim lahey no knead bread. I might try the ukrianian black bread using the same method.

Mama Pea said...

Well, bummer about the Black Bread being dropped from the "new" edition.

My husband has had a crazy CRAVING for Walnut Clusters lately. I just yesterday made the second batch of them for him in about two week. (Must be something in the walnuts he needs!)

Now you've got me salivating for Apple Slices again. I haven't made them since I did the blog post about them. Make them when you're home alone and don't worry about the bad words. They're worth it!

Thank you for your kind words. Have a great Sunday and week to come.