bread making ~ the prepared pantry

DSC_0094My-oh-my. It’s been awhile since I have added to the ever-growing collection for this series. I have thought about different things to post…but not having a kitchen, then rendering myself incapacitated with a crock-pot, then being gone from home for so long kinda put this series on the back burner.

But, guess what? It’s back! Our poor pantry has been neglected for too, too, too long. And it is back with a terribly long post filled with tons of pictures — because bread-making seems to scare many people. And I am on a mission to show you that it’s not so scary.

When we first started making bread, we were among those who thought it was a terrifying thing to even think about, let alone do. But, being the good homeschooling, frugal, farmstead family we were, Mom went on a mission to scrounge up as many recipes as she could. We had times when the dough went over and we had a big, sticky, doughy mess to clean — and who wants to scrape sticky dough off of a counter? DSCN1230DSCN1231

Why bread for a prepared pantry? Because you should *always* have bread on hand. If you have unexpected company, it is extremely easy to stretch a meal by cutting up some bread for the table. You can make it special by adding jam and butter to the table, or whipping up some honey butter. And, despite this being a post about a pantryIMG_7297, you can wrap bread in parchment paper and stick it in the freezer and it will stay “fresh” for just about forever. We always try to keep some sort of bread in the freezer — loaf bread, muffins, rolls, french bread — and I can’t begin to say how many times we have pulled it out for company =)

So, here is the bread recipe and pictures to explain almost everything. Once my hands were covered in bread dough, I tried my best =) And one more thing — this recipe I am using (and typing out) makes four loaves of bread. In the pictures I am making eight loaves. Because it was a farmers market/craft sale day at out local Tractor Supply Co.

You will need:
~6 cups warm water (NOT HOT!! You will kill the finicky yeast! About 110*)
~5 cups wheat flour
~2/3 cups honey
~2/3 cups oil (I use coconut oil, but whatever you have will work)
~ 4 heaping TBS of yeast

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Pour all of these ingredients into a large bowl and mix until incorporated. Let sit until full of air bubbles. Tip: Measure your oil before the honey — then the honey falls right out of the measuring cup without leaving a sticky residue.

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See the air bubbles from the yeast?

Add 2 TBS of salt and stir.

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pink himalayan salt, of course =)

Slowly add white flour until the dough is pulling away from the sides of the bowl.IMG_7222 Keep adding flour and mixing — eventually you will have to part with the spoon and start using your hands.

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thick and goopy…..

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too thick for a spoon

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flour your hands before plunging them into the sticky abyss :P

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perfiecto!

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Divide dough in half, then each half in half again. So you get four just-about-equal portions of bread dough.

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Four kinda equal dough portions

Now, I always cover the dough with a towel while I finish with the next part. So the dough doesn’t dry out or catch a chill =)

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Grease four pans — I use two pie plates for round loaves, and two regular loaf pans. I used an organic vegetable oil — kinda like Crisco, except better for you. Or at least not so bad =) I’ve tried coconut oil, but it cooks too hot and the bottom burns before the inside and top is done. And butter makes it stick to the pan.

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“Healthier” shortening

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greased pan…because why not? :D

If you are making round loaves, form a ball with the dough, smoothing it on top, and plop it down in the center of the pan. If you are making regular loaves, form a rough log shape and plop it in the pan. Then squish it in there until it is filling the pan. Technical, huh?

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plop and squish it in until it fits and the bottom of the pan is covered

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Round loaves rising

  Let the dough filled pans alone to rise for about thirty minutes, until doubled in size. You will be able to tell when they are ready. It is best to let them rise in a warm place — any chills and the yest might decide to not do it’s job. It’s mighty particular…trust me. I normally let the bread rise in the oven with the light on, not on the counter top. But, we don’t have air conditioning, so it was quite warm enough right where it was.   

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Rising bread dough….

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Ready-to-bake dough. Yes, I cover the rising loaves with a towel or cloth napkin

And, “part of cooking is cleaning up,” as my mother always tells us girls. The absolute best way I ave found to clean sticky bread dough without ruining a sponge with bread dough particles (been there, done that) is to fill the bowl with hot water, swish it around, and dump it OUTSIDE. Bread dough can clog a drain! I’m sure you can find a thirsty plant to pour it on, since bread dough also works as compost. IMG_7280

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Then fill the bowl with water and a little soap, and wash it with your HAND first. Dump that too =) Finally, wash it with the sponge to make sure it is 100% clean. I just used the bowl as a sink to wash everything in, since the one I used was so big =P

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   There ya have it! Enjoy!

 

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