I’m about recouped from the coronavirus, and after nearly three weeks food is starting to sound good. Out of the blue it hit me that some homemade bread would really be good.
When Katy and I first got married we’d make sourdough bread every Sunday afternoon after church. Back in 1972, Sports Afield ran a long article on making sourdough. They listed out numerous ways to make your own starter. I still have that article but now I mainly use a yeast package.
I’ve made loaves of bread in the artisan-looking lump (like a cow patty) on a baking sheet. You can add in fresh chopped garlic, olives and all kinds of herbs or vegetables.
But my favorite bread is just a plain loaf of bread. I’ll mix my flour (4-5 cups) with a ½ cup of sugar and a package of yeast. Then mix in your water and work it until it is of the right consistency. Then put the dough aside and let it rise. Katy will cover the pan with a damp rag and place it in a warm oven, which will speed up the rising process. But don’t have the oven hot or it will kill the yeast. Or you can set it up on top of the fridge and let it rise.
In an hour or two it should be working. When it has almost double in size break off enough to fill a bread pan about three-quarters of the way. Work the dough just slightly and put it in the bread pan and let it rise again.
OK, I don’t know why but one twist that will make the bread taste 10 times better is to bake it in a Lodge cast iron bread pan. It’s to die for. Cook at 350 until it is almost a slight golden brown on top. Right before it starts browning, I’ll cut a few slices of butter and grease up the top and then finish baking.
When done, pull it out. Usually with a butter knife you can run it around the edge of the pan and it will literally fall out. We eat it hot right out of the oven.
One other item you’ll want is a serrated bread knife. If you try to use a regular butcher knife it will smash the loaf. I got a Spyderco bread knife and love it. Cut slices and smear with butter and get ready to gorge. We’ll eat this alone for a meal a lot of times. It is amazing how awesome just a plain slice of bread smeared with butter is.
And use real butter. Katy read somewhere that margarine is bad for you but butter is good. I’m all for that theory and will not investigate the validity at all.
And yes, if you have a sweet tooth you can use the same dough to make cinnamon rolls. Just roll out the dough on the counter. Sprinkle on brown sugar and white sugar and cinnamon. Roll it up and let it rise. When it has risen slice into rolls. Lay the rolls on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Let them rise again. Sprinkle more brown sugar and white sugar on top and place in the oven preset for 350. Pull out when done and lather butter on top.
Now I’m hungry for some homemade bread. Happy eating!
Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana.He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop.