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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

**RECIPE** Amish Sweet Bread (SOOO easy!)

I recently stunned myself by baking a wonderful loaf of bread. I can cook and I can do a cheesecake when the moon is right, but I'm not generally a baker. I've never been patient enough. However... I found a recipe for an Amish sweet bread that is so easy even I can't mess it up. It helps that the people at Big Family Homestead. This link is to the YouTube channel where I found the recipe but they also have a website with a bunch of other recipes and stuff.

This is the video but, for those of you like me who want the thing written out, here is my transcription:

INGREDIENTS (for 4 loaves)
  • 4 cups water (almost too hot to touch)
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbls active dry yeast
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used canola)
  • 10 to 12 cups flour (I used all purpose)
  • and a bit of oil, butter or lard to grease pans
EQUIPMENT
  • 4 loaf pans (mine were about 5 x 9 - or 1.5qt)
  • A large bowl for mixing the dough and letting it rise (or "proof")
  • damp towels or some plastic wrap to cover the dough
  • a surface to be floured for kneading the dough
  • a knife or dough cutter for sectioning dough (and for scraping/cleaning kneading surface)
  • Cooling racks (I used one of the racks out of my oven)
NOTES:
  • It's currently cold & dry where I live so I warmed the kitchen and raised the humidity by keeping a couple of pots of water simmering on the stove.
  • Do be patient. My dough needed a little bit more time to rise than the recipe calls for.
  • If you do substitute self-rise flour for the all-purpose (I did in one loaf), cut out or cut back on the salt. I cut the salt out and everything was fine, but I might have lucked out.
STEPS:
  1. Flour the surface where you will be kneading your dough on later.
  2. In the large mixing bowl, dissolve the sugar into the warm/hot water.
  3. Add the yeast to the water mix and stir just very enough to wet the yeast. Wait until the yeast begins to foam a bit. This took longer than I expected.
  4. Add the oil to the mixture and stir lightly.
  5. Add about half of the flour. (NOTE: This is where I blended the salt into this half of the flour to incorporate it well. That way, if I don't need all the flour, I won't have forgotten to blend in the salt.)
  6. The first half of the flour (and the salt) will make a soup-like mix. Start adding more flour and stirring, a little at a time until you have a sticky thick dough that you can turn out onto your floured surface.
  7. Add some flour to the top of the dough so that you can begin kneading it. You will keep adding flour until you have a dough that is no longer sticky. It took me about 7 minutes(not just the 5 to 6)to get my dough right.
  8. Pat or tuck the dough into a ball and put it back in the bowl to rise (or proof) for about an hour - or until the dough has doubled in size. This is where you want to cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a warm damp towel. (The damp towel worked best because of the drier air in the apartment.)
  9. While waiting for the dough to rise, clean the kneading surface and re-flour it for later.
  10. Take the risen dough and turn it out onto the freshly floured surface and knead it into a smooth ball. Flatten the ball of dough out so that you can divide it into 4 equal parts.
  11. Make the loaf shapes by rolling each section of dough into a thick log. Tuck the sides under the bottoms so that it sits nicely into the loaf pan.
  12. Cover the loaf pans with your towel or plastic and let the loaves rest for about 45 minutes. (Remeber to pre-heat your oven at about the 35-minute mark.)
  13. While waiting for the dough to rest, it's a good time to clean up all the flour where you kneaded.
  14. After the 45 minutes, put the loaf pans in the heated oven and bake for about 30 minutes.
  15. While bread is baking, set out your cooling racks.
  16. As soon as you take the bread out of the oven, turn them out of the pans and onto the cooling rack. (This keeps the hot bread from getting soggy in the pans.)
  17. You're supposed to wait for the bread to cool to be easier to cut, but... I sliced mine after about 15 minutes and it was fine!
That's it. It's super easy and most of the time is taken up waiting for the dough to rise and then bake. I hope these directions aren't tedious but I need step-by-step instructions so this is how I transcribed the recipe. I think I had to pause and rewind a thousand times before I got it all down. 

I actually pulled this video up on my tablet in the kitchen while I was making my bread! Here you go:



BENEFITS OF BAKING


It's a mood-lifter
Like I said, I am pleased with myself that the bread came out so delicious. The other thing I discovered is that baking is a great reliever of anxiety and depression. I was having a severe bout of anxiety and couldn't sleep for over 20 hours. The baking gave me something to do that I could do without getting frustrated by the tasks. Later,  the smells of the bread in the oven soothed me a lot. Once I finished those first loaves, I was able to settle down and get some sleep. It was all very therapeutic.

It tasted healthier
I don't want to forget to mention another important benefit to making my own bread and that is the calorie factor. I'm not going to say that eating 5 slices of this bread was the best breakfast I could have had but it sure was better than eating bread loaded down with preservatives. At least I know exactly what went into my own bread and I did not feel bloated and stuffed (even after 5 slices with butter) after eating it.

The more expensive breads are touted to be healthier but they still have lots of ingredients I may not want. My own bread was made with only SIX ingredients - including the water. Here is an article from Naturally Savvy that discusses some typical store-bought bread ingredients.

It was cheap to make
I can get a loaf of bread here in my town for $0.99 - $5.00. The cheaper bread is not always the freshest or tastiest. When I got ready to make my bread, I didn't need to purchase anything in addition to the staples I always have on hand. Now, I don't normally have yeast on hand, but I did this time and it's not something I find too expensive to make a staple item. Not only can I get huge bags of flour and sugar on the cheap, but oil and yeast are not too pricey. Basically, this bread cost me very, very little to make.

I hope some of you get to try this recipe. I love the Big Family Homestead YouTube channel and just saw their recipe for cinnamon rolls... Transcribing takes me a lot of time, but I will work on that recipe when I can.

Here is how my bread turned out the very first time!


Peace
--Free

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