My hubby tells me a I have a knack for "creating work outta nothin'". He even goes as far as to harp at me about my inability to "relax"... Apparently, he's still learning I'm not too good at being idle. And, as I am not the most gracious recipient of criticism either I typically get irritated and over zealously do more. That'll show him, right? :)
Well, I know he means well. (And if we don't tell him, he might be a little bit right.) I do have a wee issue with the R-word. But if I quickly reflect on my life, I don't have a lot of memories of downtime that I didn't already pre-allocated to my running to do list. I mean weekends are two more days to get stuff done...Amen?
As I get older, I am beginning to understand the value of unscheduled time, recuperation, and not being hyper motivated to just the check boxes off. Additionally, partly because of his insistence, I am truly trying to make an effort to learn to chill and do things for pure enjoyment more regularly. But, in the meantime, let's redefine "loafing." And, it starts in the kitchen!
My dear, now departed, Grandma Jennie first taught me to bake bread when I was probably about age 5. My early memories include standing on a chair, sifting flour in my mom's old metal sifter with the apples painted on the sides and greasing Folgers coffee cans with a lard covered paper towel. (Yes, lard--we were that traditional.) I am confident this is when and where my carb addition began.
One snowy weekend this past winter, on a day I am sure I could have just relaxed, I decided to brush up on my bread making skills. I was set on baking my Grandma's bread. The trouble was we never wrote the recipe down...ever. We baked by memory and instinct. But I guess recipe recall is a little like language fluency, you either use it or lose it.
Google to rescue! I spent a good amount of time searching for a recipe that was similar to what I remembered. I landed on the Curvy Carrot's blog (a old favorite I'd forgotten about) and Rosebud's Butter-Topped White Bread recipe. It was 99% accurate to what I was remembering. It was when I set the towel covered bowl of dough on my running dryer, I knew I was on the right track. A handful of hours and a few butter slathered slices later, my morning of loafing was declared a success!
4 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast (= 2 packets)
3/4 cup warm water (not hot)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into small pieces
2 2/3 cups additional warm water
9-10 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, for brushing the tops of the loaves
plus more butter for greasing your rising bowl and loaf pans
1. In the bowl of stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, dissolve the yeast in 3/4 cup of warm water, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the sugar, salt, butter, additional 2 2/3 cup warm water, and mix gently just to combine.
3. Slowly add 5 cups of the flour, mixing in a little bit at a time on low speed until smooth.
4. With the mixer on its lowest speed,. slowly add the remaining flour until the dough is smooth.
5. Swap attachments--paddle to dough hook. Knead the dough for 10 minutes via mixer.
OR do it old school (My favorite way) and knead by hand. .
6. After kneading, lightly grease a large bowl with butter or cooking spray, as well as the pans you'll bake the bread in.
7. Once the dough is ready, place the dough in the greased (buttered preferably) bowl and turn over to completely coat the dough with butter/cooking spray. Cover, and set in a warm place to rise for 1 hour. (I use the dryer--don't do this if you have detergent scented laundry actually drying-- haha.)
8. After an hour, punch down the dough (yes, punch!) and divide it into two equal portions.
9. Working with one portion at a time, roll (with a rolling pin--I prefer a French rolling pin) the dough out into roughly 12″ x 12″ squares, making sure that the thickness of the dough is uniform.
10. Slowly and tightly roll up each square, sealing the edges firmly.
11. Tuck the ends of the roll tightly under the bread and place into your prepared loaf pans. Repeat with the second loaf. Cover the loaves, set in a warm place, and let rise until doubled, about another hour.
12. Place one rack on the lowest position in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
13. Bake the loaves for 15 minutes initially. After 15 minutes, cover each loaf with aluminum foil to prevent the tops from browning too much.
14. Once covered with foil, bake for an additional 15 minutes.
15. Cool on a wire rack and lightly brush the loaves with the melted butter.
Original recipe courtesy of Curvy Carrot.
Rise to the occasion the next time you have a free morning. Ignore the 90-degree forecast projections on the 10 o'clock news and the calendar creeping towards June; bake some now. Summer sandwiches are calling for quality bread!
PS despite my husband's grumblings about not making tasks for myself, he thoroughly enjoyed this treat for days on end.