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Stories and Stovies
Breads and Bread Making

Fee! Fi! Fo! Fum!
I smell the blood of an Englishman!
Be he alive,
Or be he dead,
I’ll grind his bones to make my bread!

(and what a way to spoil a perfectly good loaf of bread!)

Old-Time Wheat Bread
(The basic recipe is from Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book)

5 cups all-purpose flour
2 packages active dry yeast
1:3/4-cup water
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1-tablespoon salt
3 cups whole-wheat flour

In large mixer bowl, combine 3:1/2 cups of the all-purpose flour and the yeast. In your microwave or saucepan heat water, brown sugar, shortening, and salt just till warm, stirring constantly to melt shortening. (If the mixture is warm when you dip your CLEAN thumb in it, it’s warm enough.)

Add to dry mixture in mixer bowl. Beat at low speed with electric mixer for 1/2 minute, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Beat 3 minutes at high speed.

By hand, stir in the whole-wheat flour and enough of the remaining all-purpose flour to make moderately stiff dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead till smooth and elastic (10-12 minutes - but I've never gone that long without help from the children). Shape into a ball. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface.

Cover (use a clean, warm, damp towel) and let rise in a warm place until double (on top of the refrigerator is good or beside a sunny window). This takes about an hour.

Punch dough down; turn out onto lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Cover and let rest 10 minutes. Shape dough into two loaves and place in two greased loaf pans.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until almost double (about 45 minutes). Bake at 375 for 40-45 minutes. If necessary, cover loosely with foil the last 20 minutes of baking to prevent over browning - (but I never do this because we like ours crusty.)

Remove from pans and cool on wire racks - (brush with butter to not let the bread get too crusty.) Makes 2 loaves - that will be gone as quickly as you take them out of the oven!

Little Tommy Tucker
Sings for his supper.
What shall we give him?
White bread and butter.

How shall he cut it
Without e’er a knife?
How will he be married
Without e’er a wife?

Hamburger Buns – great with Granma Bleh’s Barbecue

Try to get a copy of Better Homes and Gardens bread cookbook – it really has the best recipes, and the clearest instructions for beginning bread bakers. Most of my bread recipes are based on these.)

This gives about 24 dinner rolls.

In large mixer bowl combine 4 cups all-purpose flour and 2 packages active dry yeast. Combine 2 cups warm water, (by the way I test the temp of the water by sticking my clean thumb into it and if it feels just hot, but not scalding, I know it's good), 3/4-cup cooking oil, 1/2-cup sugar, and 1-tablespoon salt. Add to mixture in bowl; add 3 eggs. Beat at low speed with mixer for 1/2 minute, scraping bowl. Beat 3 minutes at high speed. By hand, stir in 4 cups all-purpose flour to make soft dough.

Turn out on floured surface - the Tupperware type cover is really good because it washes up so well and you don't end up with a doughy mess on your kitchen counter; knead till smooth and elastic - use the kids for this, they love to mess around with living playdough! Place in greased bowl, turning once. Cover; let rise in warm place till double (about 1 hour). Punch down; divide dough in 3 portions. Oh, the punching down part is always fun for the kids. When I make bread, about 3 times a year now, I always call in the kids and we make fists and really beat on that dough.

And, no thank you very much, I do not want to ever own a bread making machine because my memories of making bread with kids and hands and dough and beating down the dough are all too great); divide dough in 3 portions. (This is great if you have three kids to help - one for each). Cover; let rest 5 minutes. Divide each portion into 8 balls - this is where the other kids now get a chance - folding edges under to make even circle. Press ball flat between hands. Place on greased baking sheets, pressing to 3:1/2" circles. Let rise till double (about 30 minutes). Bake at 375 about 10 minutes.

Easy Mix Method White Bread

5:3/4 to 6:1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 pkt active dry yeast
2:1/4 cups milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cooking oil
2 teaspoons salt

In a large mixing bowl, the larger the better, combine about half the flour (2:1/2 cups) and the yeast.

In the microwave heat together the milk, sugar, oil and salt until thumb warm. If you use a thermometer that’s about 115 to 120 degrees. Stir when you take out of the microwave.

Add this to the flour and yeast in the mixing bowl. Beat at low speed – I never use an electric mixer because the dough just seems to clog up, but if you have a really good table mixer (like a Sunbeam which I had once upon a time) with dough hooks that should work fine. Beat until you feel the texture become smooth, and keep scraping the sides of the bowl.

Now it’s time for hand work: stir in enough of the rest of the flour to make moderately stiff dough. Turn this onto a lightly floured board and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and stretchy and your fingers don’t stick to the mix. You might need to add a little more flour as you go along to keep your hands dough free.

Shape your dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl – rinse with hot water first to warm the bowl which will help the yeast work – turn your ball upside down so the top is greased – this will stop it from drying out – and cover with a warm damp clean rag (this helps the yeast work, too)- and place in your favorite warm spot and leave alone till doubled, about 90 minutes.

When it’s doubled, punch the dough down, turn it out onto your lightly floured surface and divide it in half.

Shape each of these halves into a nice ball; cover it and let it rest again (sounds like the kids doing house or yard work, with all these rests, doesn’t it?) and after about ten minutes of resting, shape these balls into two loaves and place each in a regular sized loaf plan. Let these rise until doubled.

Bake in a warm oven (375 degrees) about 45 minutes. Cover the tops with foil if the tops get too brown too fast.

Turn them out on to a rack, brush the ends, tops and/or bottoms with butter if you don’t want them to crisp up too much, and try to let them cool before the gang gets at them and they’re gone, before you, the baker, get to enjoy the results of your labor!

Charlotte’s Fried Bread "Scones"

When I got to stay home and be the housewife and mother I was so happy to be, before John died, I used to make bread all the time.

I wasn’t fanatical about it, because we bought most of our bread from the store – but American bread, believe me, is nothing like the great bread we sold in Dundee at Kidd’s the bakers – but home made bread was definitely not a rarity. We even had our own stored hard red Canadian wheat that I would take over to our friends’ homes and grind up (oh, yes, I was a regular Little Red Hen then). That fresh ground wheat really seemed to make the bread taste even better.

Johnny and Tina and Steph and Elsie, and later Alys, Nan, and Xoch, always seemed to like bread making days. They would take the pieces of bread dough I gave them to shape and sometimes they would make little pretzel shaped loaves we would then bake.

On many occasions, however, they also liked it when I would hold back about half the recipe and just let it rise a little then drop in hot vegetable oil and fry up till it was brown on the outside and soft and warm in the middle. It didn’t take very long, but I had to keep turning these little rolls. I would say it came out a cross between a doughnut and Indian fry bread. We would eat it with butter and jam, or honey, like a roll, or dust with powdered sugar and enjoy as a dessert type snack.

These were fun days.

 Easy Dill-Onion Bread

John really enjoyed this bread.

3 cups all purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1:1/4 cups milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 teaspoons dried dill seed
2 teaspoons instant minced onions
1 egg

In small mixer bowl combine 1:1/2 cups of the flour and the yeast.

In microwave heat milk, sugar, butter, dill seed, onion and 1-teaspoon salt just till warm and the butter is melted. Add to dry mixture; add egg. Beat at low speed with electric mixer for 1/2 minute, scraping bowl. Beat 3 minutes at high speed. By hand, stir in remaining flour.

Cover; let rise till double (30-45 minutes). Stir down. Spread evenly in a greased loaf pan. Let rise till nearly double (about 30 minutes). Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes. Cover loosely with foil if bread browns too quickly. Remove from pan; Cool.

Makes 1 loaf. (I never doubled this one - but I did add more onions!)

Cinnamon Rolls

I was so proud of myself in Pensacola over how well I made these rolls. After all, when we went to John's mother's house I used this recipe to make a Christmas stollen and thought I was just great stuff. However, I got my comeuppance once that time in Florida when I made these rolls for company dinner. That poor Navy friend of John's was so sweet. He took a great dive into those rolls because they were so big, dripping with cinnamon and icing, and looked just sooooo good. He ate a whole roll before anyone else even took a bit. Imagine my horror when I, the second person to dig in, tasted my roll and discovered I had put salt in my cinnamon mix instead of sugar!!! I've been (almost) humble about my cooking ever since.

Make your Basic Sweet Roll Dough first:

In large mixer bowl combine 2 cups all-purpose flour and 1 package active dry yeast. Heat 1-cup milk, 1/4-cup sugar, 1/4 cup shortening - remember I use oil - and 1-teaspoon salt till warm by Charlotte's thumb method of measuring heat. Stir and add to dry mixture. Add 2 eggs. Beat at low speed with electric mixer for 1/2 minute, scraping bowl. Beat 3 minutes at high speed. By hand, stir in 1:1/2 to 2 cups all purpose flour to make a moderately stiff dough. Knead on lightly floured surface till smooth (8-10 minutes). Shape into a ball. Place in greased bowl, turning once. Cover; let rise till double (45-60 minutes). Punch down; divide in half. Cover; let rest 10 minutes.

Now for the Cinnamon Rolls:

1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/2-cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4-cup raisins
1/2-cup walnuts - but my kids never let me have raisins and/or walnuts.

Roll each half of Basic Sweet Roll Dough into a 12x8 rectangle. Brush each with half of the melted butter. Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over dough. Sprinkle with raisins and nuts if your children will allow you to. Roll up each piece, starting with long side; seal seams. Slice each into 12 rolls. Place rolls, cut side down, in two greased 9x1:1/2 inch round baking pans. Cover and let rise till doubled (about 35 minutes). Bake at 375 for 18 to 20 minutes. Drizzle icing over warm rolls. Makes 24.

Confectioners' Icing

Combine 1 cup sifted powdered sugar, 1/4-teaspoon vanilla, and enough milk to make drizzling consistency (about 1:1/2 tablespoons. Ices 2 loaves. Cool bread slightly before icing. A wire rack with waxed paper underneath works well and makes cleanup easy. From a spoon, drizzle icing back and forth across the loaf or rolls. Or spread with a spatula. Add nuts, fruits, or other decorations before the icing sets.


Not only did I make doughnuts once, these very ones, as a matter of fact, I also once made pizza crust. I've lost that pizza crust recipe - it was Novene Ward's - so there will only be a doughnut recipe in this happy little book.

3 to 3:1/2 cups all-purpose flour 2 packages active dry yeast
3/4 milk 1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening or oil 1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs Optional Glaze

In large mixer bowl combine 1:1/2 cups of the flour and the yeast. In the microwave heat together the usual suspects of milk, sugar, oil, salt just till warm. Add to dry mixture in mixer bowl; add eggs. Beat at low speed with electric mixer for 1/2 minute, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Beat 3 minutes at high speed.

By hand, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead till smooth and elastic. (5-8 minutes). Shape into a ball. Place in lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface.

Cover and let rise in warm place till double (45-60 minutes).

Punch dough down; turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Roll out dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut with floured doughnut cutter (has hole in center) into doughnuts.

Cover and let rise in warm place till very light (about 30-45 minutes). Fry in deep hot fat (375 and don't put your thumb in this to measure if it's hot enough!) till golden, about 1 minute on each side.

Drain on paper toweling, if desired; roll warm doughnuts in sugar or frost with glaze by combining 2 cups sifted powdered sugar, 1/4-cup milk, and 1-teaspoon vanilla. All this work makes about 18 – 20 doughnuts

A Really Easy Doughnut Recipe

When John was sent to Viet Nam in 1966, after we had been married only 6 months, for a year on board the USS Oxford he wanted me to stay that year in Cincinnati because his parents were there, so I did. (My mother invited me to go back to Scotland for that year – but I wanted to stay in America.) During that year I spent a lot of time with the Church youth in our Ward there because I was really only 19 and they were closer to my age than the adults in the congregation. There were often refreshments and meals that went along with these activities (you know, the old Mormon, Indian, and Scottish adage of "if you fed them, they will come"). One night we decided to make doughnuts, the easy way. Of course, they’re nothing like Krispy Kremes (now opening franchises in Phoenix), but making them was fun. We took Pillsbury biscuits, dropped them in hot oil, fried them up till they were nice and brown, and then just covered with powdered sugar. Voila!

Challah French Toast
(but first you have to make the bread!)

I made challah (a Jewish egg bread) for the first time Thanksgiving, 1998, when I went on a huge bread baking binge. Xochitl said this tasted like croissants, and because she likes it I’ve decided this can be another of my bread making specialties.

You need:

2 pkts active dry yeast (by the way, I buy my yeast in the jar, keep it in the freezer,
and measure out the equivalents – instructions are on the jar)
cup milk
cup butter or margarine
2 tablespoons sugar

Dash powdered saffron – I went out at the last minute on Thanksgiving day morning looking for this at our local supermarket and had no luck, but eventually got some at an Indian food shop – along with the currants I needed for the clootie dumpling – more on that later.

4:1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 egg yolk

Soften the yeast in cup warm water. Heat the milk, butter, sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, and saffron till sugar dissolves; cool till lukewarm (Remember, if you heat those up in the microwave you don’t have to worry about cooling – I melted my butter first then added the milk and other stuff to the "thumb" temperature.)

Stir in 2 cups of the flour and beat well. Add the softened yeast – which you previously mixed with the cup warm water) and the 2 eggs and beat well. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead on floured surface till smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes – but I never went over 5 minutes – and shape into a ball.

Place in a warm greased bowl and turn once to have the top oiled. Cover with a warm, damp rag and let rise in a warm place until doubled – this takes over an hour. Punch down and add raisins if you like – and this is really good in your French toast, as well as some cinnamon and walnuts, too.

Divide your mix into thirds. Cover, let rise another ten minutes.

Roll each third into an 18" strand and braid and secure the ends by turning under. (Here’s a hint, it’s easier to start braiding from the middle out; remember bread rises, so don’t worry about your strands being thinnish; and don’t forget to tuck and seal the ends under when your braiding is done.)

Brush your braid with egg yolk combined with 1-tablespoon water. Sprinkle with poppy seed if you like. Bake at 375 degrees for about 45 – 50 minutes.

When I found my saffron, I was amazed to find this stuff for .01oz cost almost $4.00. And not only that, it’s little threads stored inside a teeny, tiny, Glad type storage bag! Here’s the story on the regular sized bottle it’s sold in and you’ll understand more about the cost:

"This coveted spice lends color and flavor to dressings, baked goods, and rice.

Saffron is the most expensive spice on earth. It takes more than 75,000 handpicked blossoms, each of which has 3 saffron strands, to make a pound of saffron. Each strand must be handpicked from the flower, so there are approximately 225,000 handpicked strands per pound. An acre of crocus sativus produces only 2:1/2 lbs of saffron."

Would you believe I keep this jar hidden in my dresser drawer – no way that’s going among the kitchen spices!

Now for the French Toast

Take this wonderful bread you just baked and slice into fairly thick portions – go buy a bag of "Texas Toast" for an idea of how thick – and dip into a mixture of egg and milk.

Here are some clues for really good French Toast:

Heavy on the eggs and light on the milk will give you that nice yellow color for your toast;

If you use butter to brown your toast in, remember butter burns more quickly than margarine, so watch your skillet temperature.

A really good way to serve French Toast is to forget about the syrup and instead spread the cooked toast with cream cheese and lots of Keillor’s Dundee Marmalade.

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