As some of you may know, I am a HUGE fan of The Little House On The Prairie series! We are now on the last book, The First Four Years, and I will be sad when it's over. It's the shortest book, by far, as it was not published until after Laura's death and even after her daughter, Rose's death. Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote the manuscript later in her life. Once her husband, Almanzo, died she lost interest in revising and finishing it. Her earlier books are dripping with detailed imagery and description. This last one is still very well written (as the publishers wisely knew not to alter the original manuscript) but does not have the detail, so it is shorter. The book covers the first four years of her and Almanzo's marriage. In those days, they made bread once or twice a week to last the whole week. It was, of course, all done by hand.
Growing up, I always had this impression that making bread was such a huge ordeal and very hard to do. That belief, however misconstrued it was, has largely been the reason I have not made bread on a regular basis. As much as I LOVE home made bread and know that it is healthier for me and my family (and our bank account,) the task seemed too daunting. Even after I started making bread and experienced how relatively easy it is first hand, this false belief still hung on. It's really not that hard to throw together the ingredients in a bowl and then knead for a few minutes. It's not a big deal at all to divide the dough after it's risen and place it into greased bread pans to rise a second time. It's really easy to turn the oven on and let it do the baking. The easiest part, of course, is buttering a warm piece of bread, fresh from the oven, and devouring it in 10 seconds. Still, I hardly ever made bread.
Then my mom lent me her Bosch (pictured in the background above.) Wow...throw the ingredients into the bowl, turn on and let it do all the mixing and kneading for you! Silly as it may sound, the part I disliked the most about making home made bread was cleaning the counter after I was done kneading the dough; it was always caked with a solid mixture of dough and flour that I hated scrubbing off. Then the mixture would stick to the fibers of my wash cloth and I would have to clean that off. Tough life, I know! But the Bosch eliminated that problem! So, of course, a new problem emerged: I could never cut the bread nicely! Okay, some of that has to do with being impatient and not waiting for the bread to cool...it is so yummy all fresh from the oven! I always ended up with a crumbly, uneven mess when I cut the loaf myself. I could never imagine ever using the bread for actual things like sandwiches because of this dilemma, so the bread was always eaten as a special treat with butter and jam.
Then, I bought myself an electric knife (pictured above with the bread.) :) It cuts soooooooooooo nicely! I made three fresh loaves of bread today. The entire first loaf was mostly a "treat" loaf eaten with bread and jam. The second loaf was used for sandwiches. Sebastian made a tuna sandwich. Haven and Fiona enjoyed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Elijah had a ham sandwich and I had the most delicious and yummy grilled cheese sandwich ever! The third loaf is all nicely sliced and in a bag, ready for sandwiches to be made in the coming days! Since Brighton and I can not eat soy and most store-bought bread contains some form of soy, we will mostly be having home made bread from now on. Yum!
I bet that Laura would've really appreciated a Bosch mixer and electric knife! (Among other modern technologies like indoor plumbing and electricity!) :)
Here is my favorite bread recipe and is super easy to memorize. It was given to me by my friend, Cheryl Jenness in Indiana. It is a white bread recipe. I tried it all whole wheat and, although it was still good, it was not as good. I usually make it half wheat and half white and it turns out so good! It's also SUPER easy!
4 c warm water
4 tbs yeast
4 tbs sugar
4 tsp salt
4 tbs oil
enough flour to make a smooth, non-sticky dough
Cook at 350 degrees. Makes 3 loaves.
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