Growing up my mom made lots of bread from scratch. Her (and our) favorite was French bread. And now it is my kids favorite. They have renamed it Skinny Bread. My mom loves hand kneading the bread. According to her it is the most important part of the process. When automated bread makers hit the scene she was appalled! She is going to email me as soon as I post this to tell me the standing mixer bread hook is against the rules.
She found these awesome bread tins somewhere 30 years ago. Probably at a yard sale so I guess they are about 40 plus years old. They came with directions. My dad was kind enough to send a picture of them. The tins make the best crispiest crust, but the text in the directions are very misogynistic. For instance when describing the kneading: “Don’t be afraid to manhandle the dough. The rougher you are with it the more tender the bread. It is sort of like a women in this respect.” It is hard to believe that was actually in print! The fact that it is 30 or 40 years old is not an excuse.
Back to the bread. Below is the recipe. Fabulous if you have the tins, but just as good to roll out the dough to rise and cook on a cookie sheet.
- 1 package yeast
- 5 cups flour (I used 2 cups white whole wheat and 3 cups unbleached white)
- 2 T sugar
- 1 T salt
- Bit of butter
- Egg white
- In a large bowl put sugar, salt, 2 ½ cups warm water and yeast. Stir until dissolved. Add and stir 5 cups flour until more or less mixed. Add another cup of flour and mix a little more.
- Put handful of flour on counter and dump out blob. Dust top of blob and hands with flour. Knead, adding flour (sprinkle on counter) as needed to prevent stickiness. Knead 8-10 minutes. Or mix it in a standing mixer with the bread hook for about 5 minutes.
- Butter/oil bowl and flop bread over a couple of times to cover with butter. Place plastic wrap or damp dish towel over the bowl. Let double in size.
- Punch dough and dump on clean counter. No more kneading necessary. Divide dough into 4 equal portions. (add or take away from pieces until even size). One at a time, squeeze until shaped like a piece of rope. Lay rope down and roll back and forth until uniform in width and a bit shorter than the pan length.
- Pans only need a tiny bit of butter. Put “rope” in pan. Slash each loaf three or four times with sharp knife. Brush with slightly (til foamy) beaten egg white.
- Let dough raise until it is higher than pan.
- Bake 15 minutes in 450; 30 minutes in 350
- Cool, eat, freeze (to serve warm in tin foil for 20 minutes at 350, open and cool)
Then this is what always happens after we bake together: