Bread baking is good for the soul.

Bread
What is it about getting your hands and counters (and all other surfaces) covered with flour that is so rewarding?  This weekend I made my grandma’s Italian Bread recipe and it was good for my soul.  Although it is a simple recipe with minimal ingredients, it is a timely task.  I had a few free hours on Sunday and decided to crack open the bread section in my grandma’s cookbook and knead out some stress.

Cup after cup of flour went into the whirring mixer and a beautiful dough emerged, ready to knead. This bread has to be kneaded four times with a resting period in between each.  My grandma always laid out spoons on her counter to keep track of which kneading she was completing.  Something so simple–yet so needed!  I would have been lost without the spoons.

I popped the loaves in the oven and waited impatiently while the heavenly scent filled my house.

What I love about this recipe is that it makes four loaves of bread–plenty to share!  After the bread came out of the oven, my husband and I delivered two warm loaves to our parents and took two loaves to our small group dinner.

Why is that the most basic of ingredients can brighten someone’s day? Growing up my grandma made bread all of the time.  We loved getting the phone call that she had fresh bread waiting on her counter for us to come and get.  We cherished each slice and anticipated the next loaf from her oven.

Even though bread making isn’t a dump and bake type recipe, I’m hoping to make it more often and share it with those around me.

Is there a recipe that you love to make and share with others?

Italian Bread

Makes 4 loaves

Ingredients:

8 cups flour (sometimes I mix whole wheat and white, like I did in the picture)

1 T. salt

3 T. sugar

3 T. cooking oil (I used vegetable)

2 pkg. dry yeast dissolved in 3 cups warm water

Method:

Mix salt, sugar and oil into yeast-water mixture.  Start beating in flour until all 8 cups are used.  Cover.  Let rise 4 times, for 10 minutes each time.  Punch down and knead each time.  Once 40 minutes has passed and you have punched and kneaded every 10 minutes, divide the dough into 4 equal portions.  Roll each portion with a rolling pin and roll up jelly-roll fashion.  Place loaves on a greased cookie sheet, brush tops with oil, and cut diagonal lines on the top.  Let rise for 1 hour.  Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.  This is optional, but I do brush the loaves with melted butter once they are done baking to keep them soft!

Here are the tools I love for baking this type of bread:

USA Sheet Pan  

The USA Sheet pans are made in the USA (obviously) and are the best!  They are affordable and durable and very non-stick.  The owners are amazing people, too.

Bench Scraper

I’m not sure how you roll out anything in flour without a bench scraper.  These make clean up SO easy.

French Rolling Pin

I’m partial to french rolling pins.  I like that they have no handles and that you can put as much pressure on the dough as you see fit.  Much easier to manage, in my opinion.

Kitchen Aid Mixer

I think this goes without say.  🙂

 

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