Monday, February 22, 2016
My Mother's Very Best Bread
I spent much of the day bread-making. I love lots of different kinds of bread and have made a variety of recipes over the years. But there is only one Very Best Bread: my mother's recipe.
My family simply did not buy bread at the store unless we were in the midst of moving (we did that a lot--I've lived in nine states but have lost count of how many houses and apartments). My mother always made our bread. A batch of 4 large loaves every week. It's a hearty recipe with eggs and butter and milk and sugar and a full five pound bag of flour. Mother adapted her version of the recipe from one she found in a newspaper as a young bride in the 1940's. That original recipe made a dozen loaves! The dough for mother's version weighs in at more than 8 pounds, so I cannot even imagine the strength that the original required for kneading.
My only adaptation to my mother's recipe is to make the loaves smaller in size. If the loaves are too large, it makes oversize sandwiches, oversize toast; and I end up wasting. Smaller loaves are easier to handle, and they last lots longer because they freeze beautifully.
Yeast doughs somehow seem to adapt themselves to the weather; at least that's what I think. On this warm and rainy day, there was extra bulk to the dough, so I decided to turn some of that extra into cinnamon swirls the way Mother used to do. The loaves look pretty but the swirls don't--they taste good, though.
This truly is the Very Best Bread! But this time I will be a meanie and not share the recipe because I think maybe it should be just mine for a little while longer.