For as long as I can remember, my mom has made her own bread. It is the first thing I reach for when I go home for a visit…a slice of my mom’s bread, toasted with honey or jam. I have spent the last 20 years trying to perfect my mama’s bread recipe, but it’s still not the same as hers. Sigh.
Last week, the smalls and I set to making a batch of bread for our lunch later on in the day. It was really cold outside. Spring is still taking its sweet time in getting here, and nothing soothes the soul like fresh bread from the oven on a cold day like homemade bread. Usually I would whip up a batch of bread on my own during nap time or while the smalls have their free play time, but on this day, they needed to get involved. They were cranky and restless and just as tired of Winter as I was. I did not use the mixer for this batch, as I figured a little dough pounding would be good medicine for these restless little souls.
I have prepared a picture tutorial for you to follow along if you’d like to make bread at home. The full recipe is posted at the bottom, along with a few tips for getting the best bread possible.*This is also where you would add your cooking oil.Now this is where the real fun begins. And the noise. I gave each of the smalls a ball of dough and a wee bit of flour for themselves and we spent the next 10 minutes pounding, squishing, chanting, laughing, banging, and making an all out ruckus!
Let the wild rumpus start!Each small took a turn or two choosing which way to knead their dough, and the rest of us followed along chanting the action while we worked. It was really loud, really obnoxious, and really fun! Oh, and if you’re dough looks like this…Just add more flour a bit at a time. You don’t want the dough to be dry, you want it to be “sticky” but not to “stick”. Make sense?
Now it’s time to take a rest and let your dough take over. Place the dough in a big bowl and cover it with a damp cloth…I do not typically use loaf pans for my bread. I shape them into round balls after the first rise, and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment for the second rising, and then straight into the oven from there. If you use loaf pans, give them a little prep with non-stick spray so your loaves will slide out easily.
We prepared a plate of sandwich fillers once our bread was out of the oven, and the smalls were able to choose exactly what they wanted for their own lunch.They had made their own meal, from start to finish with their own bare hands. And they were thrilled beyond measure. So very proud of their own little selves…Not only were they engaged in an activity that explores the areas of science, sensory development, mathematics, nutrition, reading, small and gross motor skills… they ate every single bite of their lunch that day. Enough said.
And here are those tips I promised you. They have been gathered from many friends from all corners of the earth to help me get my bread as yummy as my mama’s…
1. Use really warm, almost hot water in your mix.
2. Let the dough rise in a warm place, but not too warm. Too warm will cause the dough to rise really quickly and you may have a saggy bread issue once it’s baked and out of the oven awhile.
3. Do a “gluten test” on your dough after you knead and before the first rise. Take a small piece of dough and stretch it out thin, forming a nearly see-through window of dough. If the window tears easily, your dough is not ready and needs more kneading. If the window stays intact, you can go ahead and let your dough rise.
3. Bake your bread until it is golden brown and sounds hollow when you knock on it.
4. Let cool on or in the pan for about 5-10 minutes and then turn your bread out onto a cooling rack. Too much moisture will cause your bread to sag.
And there you have it. Now go make some bread and make my mama proud.
Thanks for stopping by,
Arlee, Small Potatoes