I enjoy making artisan breads, no knead breads and other beautiful breads, but every time I make a loaf of basic white or whole wheat bread, it reminds me why I started baking bread to begin with. There's just something about the art (and science) of making bread that hooks you and keeps you coming back for more.
This particular bread-baking adventure started when my sister and I took my mom and step dad to a Mennonite restaurant this past weekend. It's called 211 Main Street Restaurant and Bakery. They make the most delicious cakes and breads.
I almost bought some bread but then I remembered, I bake my own bread. Just kidding, but I was tempted. I even tried to get the recipe for one of their whole grain breads, but to no avail. Trish (one of the proprietors) said that Bob (the baker) doesn't really follow a specific recipe and never makes the bread the same way twice. I think they just want to keep their recipe secret. Can't say that I blame them.
So, I did the next best thing...
I came home and looked through my cook books. I found a recipe that I had been wanting to try for awhile but just hadn't gotten around to it. I had bookmarked it for future reference. This bread recipe is from one of my favorite bread cookbooks: Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads. It's not a whole grain bread but it sounded so homey and delicious, I just couldn't help myself.
According to Mr. Bernard, this bread is prized among the Old Order Amish families in northern Indiana. The recipe came to him by way of his wife's grandmother, who was a member of the order. It is traditionally made with a premium bread flour milled from hard spring wheat, which is the type of bread flour that you usually find in supermarkets these days. You can use all-purpose flour for this bread, but to be authentic, you should use bread flour. I haven't tried making this bread with all-purpose flour, but the version I made with bread flour is wonderful.
How to make this delicious and simple bread:
Old Order Amish Bread
Makes: 2 loaves
- 5 to 6 cups bread flour (I used about 5 cups)
- 1 package dry yeast
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 cups hot water (120 degrees - 130 degrees)
- 1/3 cup cooking oil
Grease two medium (8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch) baking pans.
In a large mixing bowl, measure 2 cups flour, the yeast, sugar, salt, water, and oil. Stir with a wooden spoon or beat with a mixer flat beater until it is well blended. Add additional flour, 1/2 cup at a time, working it together first with the spoon and then with your hands, or if in the mixer, the flat beater and then the dough hook, until a rough mass has formed and the dough has cleared the sides of the bowl. The dough will be elastic but not sticky. If the moisture breaks through the surface, dust with flour.
I started with a wooden spoon, then switched to my Danish dough whisk to finish the job.
Turn the dough onto a generously floured work surface and knead with a strong push-turn-fold motion or under the dough hook for about 8 minutes. If the dough seems slack and doesn't hold its shape, add additional flour and work into the mass.
Wash and grease the work bowl, then return the dough to it.
Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap.
Leave the bowl at room temperature until the dough has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Turn back the plastic wrap and punch down the dough. Replace the plastic wrap and leave the dough until it has risen again, about 45 minutes.
Turn the dough onto the work surface, punch down, and knead briefly to work out the bubbles.
Divide the dough into 2 pieces.
Shape the dough into loaves, place them in the pans and cover the loaves with plastic wrap or wax paper.
Leave at room temperature until the dough has risen about 1" above the edge of the pans, 40 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees 20 minutes before baking. Put the loaves in the hot oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 30 minutes until the loaves are a golden brown. The loaves will be done when a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out dry and clean.
Remove the bread from the oven, turn it out from the pan immediately, and leave on a wire rack to cool.
This bread makes excellent sandwich bread, is good for toast and is great with peanut butter and jelly.
This bread freezes well so I double-bagged the 2nd loaf and put in in the freezer.
I want to make a bunch of loaves and freeze them. They keep well in the freezer for 6 to 8 months.