B is for Bread. I love bread. I love mixing it, watching it rise, smelling it as the yeasts multiply and cause the bread to swell, baking it and having the house fill with that oh so warm and lucious aroma that envelops you like a warm blanket on a cold winter day. Mostly I love eating it. Especially when it is hot out of the oven with real butter. MMmmmm. My grandmother used to make a Honey Whole Wheat Bread that she found on the back of a Gold Medal Flour bag. I wish I could find that recipe again. It made the most wonderful bread. I remember how it was made and in entailed heating the honey and water on the stove until the honey dissolved. Then you had to cool it down some before adding the yeast (so you wouldn't kill it). It made two loaves. My family's favorite bread is my foccaccia. I'll share that with you until I can find my grandmother's bread recipe!
1 c. milk at room temp
1 t salt
3 T. butter melted into the milk
2 t. yeast.
Mix the first 4 ingredients and cast the yeast over it while you let it rise start activating. When it gets frothy add 3 cups of flour (or 1-1/2 c. whole wheat flour and 1-1/2 c. plain white flour) and knead it in. Allow to rise then punch down and form into the desired shape. We like it made flat like a traditional focaccia, but when I take it somewhere for a potluck I make it in a loaf. Bake it at 400°F for 20-30 minutes or until it is done.
This is such a nice and simple recipe. You can easily make it into something else. We've added fresh herbs, chopped garlic, cinnamon and sugar (rolled into it with butter for a cinnamony roll cake) and parmesan cheese over the top. If you make it flat rub it with some olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and punch a few finger holes into it.
Bread is the food that helped us, as a species, to stop being hunter gatherer nomads into cultivators with raised live stock. Wheat allowed us to not have to follow the herds during the winters as we had a food that would last through the winter and feed us. It also gave us the foundation to make beer. Egyptians used to take bread, water and honey and let it ferment and then drink the liquid. Later they realized that they could forgo the bread part and just start with wheat, water yeast and honey and get the same result.
In England there were two bakers guilds. One made white bread and the other dark. Elizabeth I put an end to this by uniting them into the Worshipful Company of Bread Bakers. A guild (or union) that still exists today. Bread has had to be regulated throughout history to keep the poor from staring during times of famine. Interestingly, in the middle ages people believed that white bread was better for you and was thus more expensive. Brown bread was considered less healthy and so less expensive. Today we know the opposite to be true. While our pooor ancestors were eating healthy bread, today's poor tend to eat mostly inexpensive white bread which is less healthy for them.
I did find this bread recipe which is fairly close, but still not exact.:
HONEY - WHOLE WHEAT BREAD
3 c. Gold Medal whole wheat flour
1/3 c. honey
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 tbsp. salt
2 pkgs. regular or quick-acting
active dry yeast
2 1/4 c. very warm water (120 to 130
3 to 4 c. Gold Medal oat flour blend
Butter or margarine, softened
Mix whole wheat flour, honey, oil, salt, and yeast in large bowl.
Add warm water. Beat on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl
frequently. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl
frequently. Stir in enough of the oat flour blend, 1 cup at a time,
to make dough easy to handle. Turn dough onto lightly floured
surface; knead about 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place
in bowl sprayed with non-stick cooking spray; spray the top of dough
with non-stick cooking spray. Cover and let rise in warm place 40
to 60 minutes or until double. (Dough is ready when indentation
remains when touched.) Spray 2 loaf pans with nonstick cooking
spray. Punch down dough; divide in half. Flatten each half with
hands or rolling pin into 18 x 9 inch rectangle. Fold crosswise into
thirds, overlapping the two sides. Roll dough up tightly toward
you, beginning at short end. Press with thumbs to seal after each
turn. Press each end with side of hand to seal; fold ends under.
Place loaves, seam side down, in pans. Brush lightly with butter or
margarine; sprinkle with whole wheat flour or crushed rolled oats,
if desired. Let rise 35 to 50 minutes or until double. Move oven
rack to lowest position. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place loaves on
lowest oven rack. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until loaves are deep
golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pans; cool
on wire rack.