Monday, September 20, 2010

Bread Making

Yes, I still make homemade bread. And, I do realize that I can purchase bread at the grocery store. I have not always been this way. I can still remember my first loaf of bread. It was so bad. I think I hid it in the trash or someplace. It was so bad that I didn’t make another loaf of bread for about 10 years. I would make rolls. Somehow they just didn’t present the same mental blockage as loaf bread.

Finally, I was in graduate school one of my roommates was making homemade bread and convinced me to give it a try. I tried and really enjoyed it. The bread turned out great and I was on my way to bread baking glory. I started with Anadama Bread and Sally Lunn. I don’t know why these two, other than I had the recipe for them. I soon moved on to other bread, whole wheat, cinnamon rolls, potato, and buttermilk. Baking bread became my passion. It’s just something about the yeast growing and watching the bread rise. (I know for some of you this is like watching paint dry. But I am a foodie. Enough said.) And I still get excited about cutting that first slice of bread. The crispy crust and that very soft texture.

Okay, enough drooling over homemade bread. Here is what I have learned about cooking. If you cook, you will periodically screw something up. That’s just life. I have also learned that cooking is part art and part science. And understanding the science has helped to make me a better cook. Now when I totally screw up a recipe, I go back to the science to attempt to determine what went wrong. Over the years, I figured that I most likely destroyed the yeast in that first loaf of bread. I probably added the yeast to liquid that was too hot. I still don’t use a thermometer to test the liquid before adding the yeast. I use the inside of my wrist. If it is comfortable on my wrist, it should be okay to grow yeast. I once left the salt out and that was a total disaster. That bread never stopped raising. The function of salt is to control the growth of yeast, strengthen the gluten, and help develop flavor. Most yeast breads only have a tiny amount of salt, but put it in. It’s vital to good yeast bread.

I recently ran across my first two loaf bread recipes. And since I have found them to be tried and true, I thought I would share them with you.

Anadama Bread
 It is believed that Anadama bread began in New England. The story goes like this, “A fisherman, angry with his wife, Anna, for serving him nothing but cornmeal mush with molasses, one day added yeast and flour and baked it. He ate the bread and exclaimed, Anna, damn her.” This recipe makes too much dough for a regular loaf pan. I bake this bread in a small pie pan or cookie sheet.

Yields: 1 loaf.

1¼ cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup molasses
2 Tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 package active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
3 to 4 cups all purpose flour

1. Combine water, salt, and cornmeal in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and pour into the bowl of a mixer. Stir in molasses and shortening. Cool to lukewarm.
2. Soften yeast in warm water. Allow yeast to foam, about 5 to 10 minutes. (Note: If it does not foam, toss and start over.)
3. Add yeast to the cornmeal mixture. Stir in enough flour to make a sticky dough. Knead on floured surface until smooth, about 10 minutes.
4. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray or coat with oil. Place dough in bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to raise until volume doubles.
5. Punch down and shape as desired. Place in pan and let raise again until nearly doubled. Bake at 375°F for 40 to 45 minutes.

Sally Lunn
Sally Lunn bread is almost a cross between a cake and bread. Some historians believe this bread was first made by protestant refugees from France, who called this bread “soleil et lune”, meaning sun and moon. This bread is unusual in that it bakes in a fluted tube pan. The dough is also fluid, so don’t add extra flour.

Makes 1 loaf.

1 package active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
2 Tablespoons butter
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
3½ cups all purpose flour
1 cup warm milk

1. Soften yeast in the warm water. In a mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugar. Beat in eggs and salt. Stir in 1½ cups of the flour; beat vigorously. Stir in milk and the softened yeast; mix well. Add the remaining 2 cups of flour; beat vigorously. Cover; let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume (about 1 hour).
2. Stir batter down. Spoon into a greased 10-inch fluted tube pan. Cover; let rise again until double (30 to 45 minutes).
3. Bake in 325°F oven for 10 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 375F and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from pan. Serve warm or cool.


  1. Hi Georgia,
    The bread recipes look good! I will have to try it.
    Just a curious question, I have a bread maker (which I have never used)- can I use bread maker and use the same recipes?

    Thank you.

  2. Sushma;
    Thanks for your question. Yes, you can use your bread machine for these recipes. Depending on the size of your machine, you may need to actually bake in the oven.

  3. hi
    i love to eat bread. my favorite of all time is my gmas' homeade wheat bread!!! i will have to try your recipe soon. your pictures remind me of making bread with my mom:kneading it,then letting it rise etc...the whole thought brings back the delicious smell of bread right out of the oven! talk to you soon