We regularly buy what I refer to as "poison bread". Poison because it is the softest form of glyphosate-laden, fluffy bread that bears no relationship to the wheat it supposedly came from. The organic brands tend to be either whole wheat, dry, or dressed up in oats and seeds to appear healthier and more deserving of their organic certification. (There's nothing wrong with any of that except that my family doesn't want anything they have to chew too hard.)
I used to bake my own, but it's always too heavy. I've been on a lengthy sourdough kick, but I aways screw up the timing and end up with a heavy, glue-y mess. So back to the drawing board- I bought lots of organic flour and ordered overpriced yeast online since I can't find it in stores. I was prepared to bake through ALL the recipes if I have to, but I found the perfect recipe on my first try! Statistically improbable, but it happened! The search for perfect sandwich bread turned out to be surprisingly short.
The recipe is from a reprint of Farm Journal's Country Cookbook, first published in 1959 according to the inner cover. This is only the second recipe I've ever tried from the collection, but clearly it's a classic. Both my kids loved it immediately. The only oddity is that it calls for lard, but in the farm setting this makes lots of sense, and since I have LOTS of lard, it makes sense for me too. I'm sure you can substitute oil or butter.
I was originally going to try recipes from a more modern collection, but they called for instant yeast, and I have only active dry yeast. Strangely enough, later my daughter pulled out a recent book on bread making and their sandwich bread turned out to be nearly the same recipe. The modern recipe uses 3 tablespoons of oil instead of the lard and skips the second rise. It also adds a glaze.
I used a mixer to begin this recipe, but there's a little kneading too. You can also make it with just a bowl and a spoon- but that's probably going to be a workout!
2 cups milk
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon lard
2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (a package)
1/4 cup warm water
6 to 6-1/2 cups flour
1. Warm up the milk and stir in the sugar, salt, and lard. It has to be hot enough to melt the lard. Cool to room temperature.
2. Sprinkle the yeast on the warm water and stir. Add the yeast mixture, 3 cups of flour, and the milk mixture to a mixer, though of course you can always mix it with a spoon the old fashioned way. I did this in my mixer with the dough hook. Mix it until the batter is smooth and the dough "sheets" off a spoon.
3. Keep adding the remaining flour a little at a time until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl and forms a ball. I only needed another 3 cups. Remove the ball of dough from the mixer and put it on a lightly floured surface. Leave the dough covered for 10 minutes, then come back and knead the dough for 8- 10 minutes until it's smooth and elastic.
4. Put the dough ball into an oiled bowl. Turn it to make sure the whole ball is lightly coated in oil, cover it with a cloth, and leave it for an hour or so until it is doubled in size. To check, stick your finger 1/2" into the dough. If the indentation stays, the dough is ready.
5. Punch the dough back down and let it rise again until doubled in size, this time only about 45 minutes.
6. Put the dough back on the board and shape it into two loaves. Put them each in a greased 9x5 loaf pan, cover them, and let them rise again for an hour until they're about doubled.
7. Bake them at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. The top will brown quickly. Turn the oven down to 350 for the last ten minutes, and remove them from the oven. The top will be a deep golden brown. Turn them out onto wire racks and cool before slicing.
I wish I had taken a picture of my first sandwich with this bread, but I ate the whole thing before I remembered. This bread might make me extra fluffy! Something to consider unfortunately. The bread held together perfectly, but the contents were great too: mayonnaise, turkey breast, cheddar cheese, loads of lettuce, loads of basil, pickled red onion, and salt and pepper. SO GOOD!!!!!
With the goats bred only last December, we are running a little late in the goat world. May 10th was our first due date, and it was only May 8th we got the last of everything set up and cleaned out. It gets exponentially easier every year now that we have a little barn and we know what to expect.
Yesterday morning we spent shoveling in new wood chips and congratulating ourselves on our exceptional preparedness. Calypso's ligaments were gone, and Button's nearly so, but as I explained to my son, that just means they're ready to have babies- and we knew that already, didn't we? The rest of the day was spent gardening and languishing in the heat. I heard a little noise from the goat area and assumed I needed to ask my son to refill the hay, but thought no more of it and went in for dinner.
The goat area is right behind the bedrooms and bathrooms, so after dinner I went in to the restroom and heard, TO MY HORROR, the sounds of little goat voices announcing their arrival to the world. I hollered, "Babies!" as I barreled through the house on my way outside. And there, in a little patch of dirt wedged in between the trampoline and the barn, lay Calypso surrounded by three babies. I've had five months to prepare for this moment, so I don't know why this came as such a shock, but I was shocked all right! And there was a sac popping out of Calypso, number 4 making its way into the world.
My family says I yelled a little bit, no sentences, just words like "towel" and "snot sucker". I don't remember. Unfortunately, Baby #4 didn't make it. She was the skinniest little thing I've ever seen and she wasn't breathing. My husband buried her while I saw to the others.
So, three beautiful, healthy babies. Great job, Calypso! It's a good thing she didn't need me, because I certainly was no help to her. If goats wrote Yelp reviews I would be out of business.
Goat babies are probably one of the cutest things you will ever see. They are so fluffy and little and cheerful. When you pick them up they smell like those sweet erasers as a kid that you always wanted to nibble on to see if they would taste as good as they smelled. It seems improbable that something birthed in goo and bathed in spit would be soft and sweet and clean, but it's true.
My daughter and I camped out last night because Buttons looked suspiciously like she was ready to deliver too. I didn't get much sleep, but it was beautiful lying down in the dark hearing all the little goat noises and Calypso calming them all down and putting them to sleep. There is a little stand of birch trees that overlook the barn, and the lamp we brought outside lit up the leaves and branches without dimming the stars beyond. The mosquito bites were slightly less romantic.
I love trying new foods, cooking, and gardening. I hope to share these experiences on this site. Thanks for taking a look!