|Three loaves of homemade bread made with homegrown wheat.|
The recipe I use originated with Betty Crocker as Rich Egg Bread. Ingredients: 1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees. Use a thermometer to be sure), 1 Tablespoon yeast (I buy it by the pound, not in little packages, and keep the bag in the freezer), 1/4 cup sugar, 1-1/2 cups milk scalded and cooled to 105 to115 degrees (I just warm it up in the microwave), 1 Tablespoon salt, 1/4 cup solid shortening, 3 eggs, 7 1/4 to 7 1/2 cups flour.
If you're using a metal bowl, warm it with hot tap water before starting. Sprinkle the yeast over the half cup of warm water. Stir in sugar and warm milk. Let the yeast work for up to an hour. It will look sort of foamy. If it doesn't, your yeast may be old, or the water or milk may have been too hot and killed the yeast. Add four cups of flour and beat for two minutes by machine. At this point I use three cups of fresh whole wheat flour ground in my Vita Mix and one cup of unbleached all-purpose flour. Recently, I tried substituting store-bought whole wheat. Texture and flavor both suffered. I won't do that again except in an emergency. Add salt, shortening, eggs, and another three cups of all-purpose flour. Mix and knead, adding additional flour if needed to easy handling. Add too much flour and the loaves will not cook in the middle. I used to do this by hand, kneading for five minutes. Now I use the lovely machine my husband bought me. (He really appreciates the bread!)
Form the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled. Punch it down and let it rise again. A second rising improves the flavor. Shape into loaves, three if using 7-1/2x3-3/4x2-1/4 or 8-1/2x4-1/4x2-5/8 pans; two if using larger pans. Flatten the dough with a rolling pin or with the fleshy part of your hand to an oval about fourteen inches long and ten inches wide. Turn the sides toward the center to a width that will fit your pans. Use the rolling pin again to remove possible air bubbles. Roll the dough into a cylinder. Pinch the bottom seam with you fingers. Use the side of your hand to make a flap to seal both ends. Turn these ends under and pinch them to hold them in place. Cover and let rise until about doubled again. I don't recommend that you let the dough rise more than an inch or so above the top edge of you pan*before it goes in the oven.
|Use the side of your hand to make a flap at both ends.|