Tag Archives: bread

The Sweet Smell of Success, Sort of…

Yesterday, I took advantage of having a relatively slow day (only two loads of laundry, two cheerleading practices, a cheer parents’ meeting, and a dinner invitation at Jim’s parents) to make molasses brown bread.  I had mentioned making bread on Saturday to Jim on Friday night, and he’d requested brown bread made with molasses.  Since we went to a movie and out for supper on Saturday, I didn’t get to the bread until Sunday.

Never having made Molasses Brown Bread before, my first step was to find a recipe…I went to my well-stocked cookbook shelves (I probably have only about 200), and selected a cookbook from a local church.

Brown Bread

2 T. quick-rise yeast

1 T. sugar

3 T. shortening

1 cup raisins

1 egg, beaten

1 cup warm water

1 cup oatmeal

2 cups boiling water

3/4 cup molasses

1 T. salt

6-7 cups flour or enough to knead

First, I put the oatmeal and raisins into a bowl, and poured the boiling water over them.

Oatmeal and Raisins Covered in Boiling Water...

After the oatmeal/raisin mix was cool, I put 5 cups of the flour, the yeast, the sugar, and the salt into a large mixing bowl, and stirred to mix them around.  I put the warm water and the shortening into a measuring cup.  Then I got out the molasses…problem!

A little bit short of molasses...needed 3/4 cup!

I didn’t have quite enough molasses, so topped the cup up with honey…it’s all liquid sugar, right?  Then I added the warm water mixture to the bowl with the flour in it, and stirred it in.  Next, I added the egg, and finally the molasses and the bowl with the oatmeal and raisins.  I added two more cups of flour (used the full 7 cups), and kneaded the dough until it was smooth.  Then I oiled the dough, covered it with plastic wrap and left it to rise.

Dough before first rise...

About 45 minutes later, it looked like this:

Dough after first rise...

 I punched it down, covered it, and let it rise again, until it looked like this:

Dough after second rise...

I greased a 9 x 14 cake pan, and then punched the dough down again.  Then I formed the loaves, and put them in the pan:

Newly-formed loaves in pan...

I left the loaves to rise again, until they looked like this:

Loaves after third rise...ready to bake!

I turned the oven on to 375 degrees, and put the bread in for fifteen minutes.  Then I reduced the heat to 325 degrees, and baked for another 25 minutes (our oven is hot – others may find it works better with 400 degrees for the first part, and 350 for the second).  After the allotted amount of time, I took the bread out of the oven, and out of the pan.  I had a minor issue with one loaf sticking to the bottom of the pan, and slightly squishing another on the top.  This is the finished product (cracks and all):

Finished loaves of Molasses Brown Bread...

I sliced one piece each off one of the loaves for Jim and I to sample…we wanted to take a loaf to Jim’s parents, and had to make sure it was okay.  It was delicious!

I had left the loaves on the dining room table to cool, and realized after we got to Shirley and Gordon’s that I’d forgotten to bring them some.  I promised to leave one for them to get this afternoon when they drop off Bri after her orthodontist’s appointment.  We had a lovely dinner: chicken, peas, carrots, mashed potatoes, rolls, apple pie, and blueberry pie.

We had to leave Jim’s parents’ at 7:15 because there was a meeting for cheerleading parents at Hope’s school after her practice. 

We got home about 8:30, narrowly missing a skunk which had just ambled across our driveway!  I went into the dining room to put the bread into plastic bags, and was horrified to see what Jake had been up to while we were gone!  He had eaten almost half the bread (the only loaf he hadn’t touched was the one I’d cut to sample).  I salvaged what I could (I might have said a bad word or two, too!)…six hours of work was ruined!  I guess there’s no point crying over chewed-up brown bread…

"But they smelled so good, Mom!"

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Doh!

Preface: I am not a novice bread-maker…I taught myself to make it about twenty years ago as a way to relieve stress.  I do not own a bread machine…I make it the old-fashioned way (except for using quick-rise yeast).

The other day, I stayed home from the bookstore to try to get caught up on some household chores.  One of my plans for the day was making some cinnamon raisin bread…I’d been craving it since seeing some at the grocery store earlier in the week.  It had also been a few weeks since I made bread, the last time being Easter when I made Buttermilk Rolls (https://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/04/03/no-use-crying-over-spoilt-milk/).

I went to the flour canister, which was nearly empty.  I brought the big bag of flour up from its home in the basement stairwell, and refilled the canister.  I measured six cups of flour into my large stainless steel mixing bowl, added the half cup of sugar, the tablespoon of yeast, the teaspoon of salt, three tablespoons of cinnamon, and a cup of raisins.  I stirred everything together.

In my four-cup glass measuring cup, I put a half-cup of shortening, and 2 1/2 cups of boiling water.  I stirred it around until the shortening had melted, and let it cool a few minutes.

I made a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and poured the cup of water and shortening into the flour.  I stirred it until all the flour was moistened, and then added an egg and stirred some more.  Then I kneaded in two more cups of flour.

After oiling the dough, I covered the bowl with plastic wrap and left it for the first rise.

Dough Before First Rise...

I went away and worked on laundry for the next hour…when I came back, the dough had risen nicely…

Dough After First Rise...

I punched it down, kneaded it some more, covered it up, and left it for another hour.  It was even more beautiful!

Dough After Second Rise...

I then punched it down, greased a 9 x 14 cake pan, formed the dough into three loaves, and left it to rise again.

Loaves After Third Rise...

They were absolutely beautiful.  I turned the oven on to 400 degrees, and put the pan in the oven.  Five minutes later, I smelled something burning…the tops of my wonderful loaves were a lot darker brown than I intended!  I shielded them with some foil, and put them back in for another ten minutes.  I then reduced the heat to 350 degrees and baked them for an additional 25 minutes (this is the process I’ve used for twenty years, minus the foil shielding part – I’ve only been using this particular oven for a little over a year – I’m still getting used to its idiosyncrasies). 

When I took the bread out of the oven, I took a fine grater and attempted to “sand” the dark bits off the top.  That worked to a certain degree.  I flipped the loaves out of the pan onto a tray to cool, and then righted them.  In the process, they pulled apart a little.  That’s when I realized they weren’t done.

So I put them back in the pan as best I could, and returned them to the oven for another ten minutes.  When I took them out again, I realized I was beat.  My once-beautiful cinnamon raisin bread was now half its original thickness…it resembled some poor rectangular brown balloon which had sprung a leak.  I sliced a piece off the end and spread some butter on it…it tasted okay, but it still wasn’t done.  Totally disgusted, I chucked the whole thing into the compost bin!

Someday, I will try again…I’m blaming this failure on the oven…

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