I love bread, My whole family loves it. The smell of freshly baked bread is one of my favourite smell. It’s only rivalled by the actual taste of that first slice steaming and dripping with melted butter.
Baking bread hasn’t always come easy for me though. It’s supposed to be light and fluffy. Not heavy like a brick. My in-laws lovingly gave us a brand new Bosch Mixer as our wedding present and it felt wrong to just leave it on my counter. Didn’t all married women make bread?
Baking bread is easy, right? I mean, how hard could it be? Women for generations have been baking.
You know where this is going don’t you? I pulled out a recipe and starting throwing ingredients into the mixer thinking that this was a piece of cake and anyone can make bread, especially if I didn’t need to knead it by hand. I let it rise, made loaves, let them rise and then baked them.
Heavy bricks only good for toast
The house smelled amazing. I couldn’t wait to share them with Arlen. When I pulled them out of the oven they didn’t look right. They were smaller than I thought they should be. They were really heavy, really heavy. We cut into one and it was really damp. They tasted ok, but they just weren’t right.
For years I kept at it, continuing to make heavy bricks that were only good for toast. I couldn’t get why they wouldn’t turn out. I was so frustrated that I stopped making bread completely while the kids were babies. It made me too frustrated.
Fast forward till about 6 years ago. I knew that I wanted to start again. This time I had more time and I wanted to save money in the grocery budget. Our youngest was around a year and the other 2 kids were more or less able to occupy themselves or at school. I headed to the computer, determined to research making bread.
My maternal grandma makes the lightest and fluffiest loaves out there. But she lived 1-3/4 hours away and I wasn’t able to ever get there for lessons. This was something I had to figure this out on my own. I wrote down recipes, watched videos and slowly my loaves started to improve.
Way too much flour!
I finally realized that I was adding WAY too much flour. The more flour I added the heavier and damper my loaves became. Learning to find that perfect balance with too little and too much flour is going to take practice. If you’re doubting, err on the side of too little. You can always use a little flour on the counter when kneading and forming the loaves.
This video is one I shared on one of my other Instagram profiles.
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Bread making tips: Know when to stop adding flour. Too much flour makes a really dense heavy loaf. To little flour and your dough is hard to work with. My recipe calls for 10 cups of flour. But I only loosely measure. After I have about 7 cups in I slowly shake in the flour a bit at a time until the dough just starts to pull off the side of the bowl. Once I've reached that, I stop adding flour and turn my mixer on setting 2 and mix for 5 minutes. #homemaking #homesteading #freshbread #willowlaneflowerfarm
I eventually found one recipe that has become my go to recipe. I don’t know where on the internet I found it (otherwise I’d would give credit) but this is my go to recipe!
Country Air Buns
- 4-1/2 cups warm water
- 2-1/2 tbsp yeast
- 2 tsp white sugar
- 1/2 cup oil or lard
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp vinegar
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 10 cups flour
- Combine first 3 ingredients together and let proof 2 minutes or till bubbly
- Add oil (or lard), salt, vinegar and sugar, mix till combined.
- Add 5-6 cups flour and turn stand mixer on low. Once combined slowly add remaining flour till dough just starts to come away from the side of the mixing bowl. Then stop adding flour.
- Turn mixer to medium or #2 setting and let knead for 5 minutes
- Place dough into a greased bowl and let rise 1-1.5 hours or until double in size
- Form loaves and let rise until double in size
- Bake at 400 F for 35 minutes