Friday, April 23, 2010

Getting in touch with my roots.

I come from a long line of cooks. I don't remember my grandmother or mother ever using a boxed cake mix. No frozen lasagna, not even so much as spaghetti sauce out of a jar. They always made everything from scratch, even after my mother was teaching full-time. So naturally, I've done the same.

And now that I'm working part-time (in addition to homeschooling), it's harder than ever to keep up with it. My family is spoiled, and I can't say I'm really sorry. It would never occur to me to serve macaroni and cheese out of a box (although Abbie eats it willingly). They would revolt.

Back when I was pregnant with my fourth baby (Abbie), my midwife informed me that I was anemic. She told me I could use iron supplements, but it would be best to just eat more iron-rich foods. So I added spinach and other dark greens, but the best thing I did was buy a grain mill and a 50-pound bag of wheat and start making bread. Every day.

My iron came right up and I continued making bread for years. Did I mention we are spoiled?

Fast forward to my working days, which started about a year and a half ago. No more did the family find fresh wheat rolls in the bread drawer. Only Stroehman's. How sad, right?

So in my quest to be super-mom, I had to figure out a way to make homemade bread on a regular basis again. Enter the bread machine.

My model is quite inexpensive, about $50 at Wal-Mart. Since I don't like the bread actually baked in the machine (big square bread? with a hole in the bottom?), all I use it for is mixing the dough and letting it rise.

I took the bread recipe that's been in my family for many years and adapted it to the machine and whole wheat flour, and here it is:

Doesn't everyone have an Aunt Ethel?

So here we go. Put 3/4 cup non-fat buttermilk, 3/4 cup water, and half a stick of butter (and for heaven's sake, don't use margarine. That stuff is BAD for you!) in a glass measuring cup and nuke it for a minute. You want it to be nice and warm, and the butter to be partly melted. It's ok if it's not completely melted. Dump this in your bread machine pan.

Now the dry stuff.

On top of the warm liquid, put 4 cups whole wheat flour (I use white wheat, freshly ground), 1/2 cup regular bread flour, 3 Tablespoons sugar, 1/2 Tablespoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and a little less than 1 Tablespoon bread machine yeast. Add this stuff in the order it's written here, so the yeast is on top.

Stick the pan in your bread machine, set it to mix and rise, and go do something else. Read blogs, fold laundry, edit an E-Book, or take a nap.

When it beeps an hour and a half later, take the dough out and squeeze all the bubbles out of it. Form it into rolls (oil your hands first so the dough doesn't stick while you're squeezing and flattening and folding the edges under to make them pretty),

and put the rolls on a sprayed baking sheet. I usually get about 17 or 18 rolls. You could also make bread out of it, but my family is partial to rolls. Don't ask me why.

Cover the whole thing with a towel and let the rolls rise for 30-45 minutes, or until they look a little puffy. This isn't an exact science. Just give them some time to relax and get happy.

Put the pan in a preheated 375° oven and bake for 15 minutes. Your house will smell like nectar of the gods.

Slice one open right now while they're hot and put way too much butter on it. Go ahead!

Isn't it incredible?

Be thankful ~


No comments: