The staff of life


Cow-Calf Commentary

KIMBALL, Neb. – About one in 111 Americans suffer from the autoimmune disorder Celiac Disease (CD). As described in the story elsewhere in this edition, those with CD have an atypical response to ingesting cereal grains which cause an immune response which actually attacks the lining of the small intestine. This is a dire malady for that one percent of the population who suffer from CD. In general, these people cannot eat bread without becoming ill.

For the other 99 percent of the population, however, bread is a common staple of the diet. Leaving aside current non-gluten dietary fads, bread is a delicious and important part of the diet, which is why it’s called the staff of life.

As I suspect most people know, you don’t necessarily have to purchase your bread from the bakery or food store. You can make it at home, and you don’t need a fancy bread machine or a bread making mix. In fact, you don’t even need a mixer! All you need is flour, water, yeast and salt, plus a bit of sugar and butter if you follow the recipe below. You also need time and a bit of elbow grease.

Regarding the recipe I’ll include here, it comes from my Grandma Helen Evertson. Some of my fondest memories are of Grandma making bread. I found the process fascinating, the smells wonderful, and the taste of home-baked bread devine.

When Grandma passed we thought she’d taken her bread recipe with her and that it was lost for good. Some years later, however, I found a sheaf of handwritten recipes in an old cigar box she had tucked away sometime in the 1960’s. Included in that sheaf of recipes was one titled, simply, “Bread.”

Helen’s Homemade Bread (makes three loaves)

Ingredients

3C lukewarm water (110-115 deg)

¼ C sugar

2 envelopes dry active yeast (4 ½ t)

4T melted butter

1 ½ t salt

9C bread flour, 2.75 lbs or 44 oz.

Preparation

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in water, let stand until yeast foams. Add salt and melted butter, stir to dissolve. Add 4-5 cups flour and mix well with large, sturdy spoon. Add remaining flour and stir until dough begins to come together. Turn out on lightly floured surface and knead until dough begins to blister, about 10 minutes. Smooth dough into an even ball and place in large bowl. Cover and let rise in warm area until doubled in size, about thirty minutes to two hours, depending on the strength of the yeast.

Punch dough down, re-shape into smooth ball, return to bowl and cover. Let rise until doubled again, about 30 minutes to an hour..

Punch down and turn out again, and divide into 3 parts (about 24 oz. each). Roll into loaf-shaped logs and place in loaf pans. Place pans in warm area and let rise, 30 minutes to an hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bake loaves for 45-50 minutes, until well browned and done. Turn out on cooling rack and brush tops with melted butter. Let cool 30 minutes to one hour before slicing.

If you decide to try this recipe, keep this in mind. One of the secrets to baking is experience. You learn over time how to do it better and better. Stay the course and enjoy the experience, as well as the delicious bread you make.

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