I’ve always liked that old adage, Ma Ingles said in Little House in the Big Woods:
“Wash on Monday,
Iron on Tuesday,
Mend on Wednesday,
Churn on Thursday,
Clean on Friday,
Bake on Saturday,
Rest on Sunday.”
I wish I could follow a schedule like that—maybe my house would be cleaner and more organized. But, a career and extracurriculars limit what I can do. Plus, I have a natural inclination toward household chaos. I am not an instinctively good housekeeper.
But, Tuesdays have become my baking day. Tuesday is the one day of the week I am home all day focusing on little 3 children in my home and getting some house work done. I (usually) have time to bake! We go through a lot of bread in our house. I don’t like grocery store bread, and Asheville is rich with great bakeries, but at the rate we go through bread, it gets far too expensive to buy.
I try to make a 4-loaf batch of bread—3 regular loaves and one with I shape into buns, rolls, or cinnamon swirl bread. I sometimes also make tortillas or granola—some standard foods our family eats a lot of.
My grandmother baked bread at least once a week when I was growing up. She made a sweet sourdough bread that my grandfather loved. She brought the starter from Oregon, from her family, and kept it going for something like 40 years. I remember her bread—sweet, white, soft, with a slight sourness to it. It was such a special treat to have warm fresh slice shortly after the bread came out of the oven. I tried to make bread for a few years with her starter when I was in college, but I was not a regular-enough baker to keep it alive.
My grandmother, and her mother, and her grandmothers, were excellent bakers. Their recipes have been handed down for generations, and a few years ago I transcribed all my great-grandmother’s recipes. I am going to try a series here on this blog, baking each Tuesday from one of the recipes. I will post pictures and the recipe. It should be fun. I have always wanted to try them all, and this will give me a goal.
I feel good about Baking Day. I am accomplishing something domestic and making healthy food for my family—a good feeling indeed.
I’ll start the great-grandmother recipe series next week. This week, the bread recipe I use:
Large batch of Bread (adapted from Ken Haedrich’s Country Baking)
1 ½ quarts warm water
1 ½ cup old-fashioned oats (but I used millet or oat bran or other whole grains for part of all of this. I think you could use leftover oatmeal, cooked brown rice, etc.)
1/3 cup honey
1 ½ T yeast (or 2 packets).
Mix all this together and let it sit for 5 minutes.
Add 6-7 cups whole wheat flour and stir vigorously for 1 minute.
Cover and let sit for about 30 minutes.
Stir in 1/3 cup oil or melted butter and 2 T of salt
Then, stir in a cup or 2 of whole wheat flour. Keep stirring in flour till you can’t anymore, and turn out on counter and knead—adding more flour as needed. I start using white bread flour (unbleached) at this point, but you can use whole wheat. In total add about 11 cups of flour. I like King Arthur. Knead for 10 minutes, if you can last that long!
Shape into a large ball and put into the bowl you turned it out of. Most bread making recipes say to oil the bowl first, but I just sprinkle flour into the bowl that it came out of. No problems with sticking and no extra bowls or oily hands to clean.
Let rise for about 1 hour. Shape into loaves or buns/rolls, put into oiled pans/trays. Let rise for about 1 hour.
Bake at 375 degrees till done (about 30-45 minutes depending on size of bread and shape of pan). Bread is done when browned a little and it sounds hollow when taken out the pan and tapped on the bottom. I usually bake them in 2 batches because of limited room in the oven and that seems fine.