Country Kitchen: Breadmaking Memories

Country Kitchen: Breadmaking Memories


By Mary Emma Allen

The aroma of freshly baked bread permeated my aunt's farmhouse kitchen. She baked and cooked many other foods and pastries, but her homemade bread made the most impression on me and has lingered long, more than half a century, in my memory.

She and my grandmother, Nanny, lived together in one side of the farmhouse where my mom grew up. My uncle and aunt in the other side. Every afternoon at 3:00, they had afternoon tea. This was such a treat when our family visited or when I stayed a few days with them.

Auntie and Aunt Bess had their coffee, Nanny her tea, and we children milk. There might be cookies, cake or pie to accompany our afternoon repast, but my favorite was a thick slice of Auntie's homemade bread, spread with churned butter, and jam put up in the summer.

Learning to Make Bread

When I was eight years old, Auntie taught me to make bread. I still can recall the smell of the yeast cakes dissolving in warm milk, kneading the bread, and watching it rise in the pans. Sometimes Auntie made one of the loaves into biscuits. Then the baking bread aroma made me hungry.

Best of all was being allowed to slice the heel or crust of the bread when it came from the oven and slather it with butter.

Making Bread

Soon afterward, at home, I tried making my first bread with Mother's guidance. (Mother knew how to make bread but seldom had the time since was actively involved in our dairy and poultry farm.)

I still have a picture of me holding that first loaf of bread although over the years it has faded greatly.

Auntie's Recipe

Several years ago a friend of Auntie's gave me my aunt's recipe notebook, in which she'd jotted down her favorites from over the years. In it was the same recipe, I believe, that Auntie used when making bread those years ago on the farm.

Jot your breadmaking memories down for your children and grandchildren and let them be a part of your recipe heritage.

AUNTIEÂ’S WHITE BREAD RECIPE

Sprinkle 2 packages dry least over 1/2 cup warm milk; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 2 1/2 cups warm milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon salt, 3 tablespoons shortening, and 4 cups sifted flour. Beat until smooth. Add remaining 4 cups flour to make a dough that isn't sticky and can be handled easily. (AuntieÂ’s recipe said you may need up to 1 more cup of flour to achieve this.)

Put dough on a floured board and let rest for 5 minutes. Knead approximately 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a draft free place until doubled in bulk. Punch down and place on floured board; knead for 5 minutes.

Divide in half and place in greased bread pans, 9 x 5 x 3-inches. Brush top of dough with butter. Let rise until dough is above the pan.

Bake at 400 degrees F. for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from bread pans to cool. The heel is delicious when sliced warm and slathered with butter!



(C) 2002 Mary Emma Allen

About the Author

Mary Emma Allen has been writing her "Cooking Column" for newspapers and online publications for 30 years and has compiled a family cookbook. SheÂ’s currently compiling a cookbook/story book, "Tales From a Country Kitchen." Visit her web site for more cooking articles. Contact her at me.allen@juno.com

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