Saturday, March 30, 2013

Mastering the Basics

Has anyone out there read Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott? I loved that book as a kid. In the book, Rose's father dies and she goes to live with her uncle. She has a slew of aunts and, as you might have guessed, eight cousins--all boys.

Her uncle wants her to learn some good skills and one of the skills is bread baking. Ever since reading that book, I have wanted to master the art of bread baking...and yet, I have been a little afraid to do so. Bread making just seems so intimidating! But do you know what? It just takes some practice. Besides, the payout is so great. Is there really anything better than freshly baked bread? No way!

I found this recipe on I love that website. I love that there are some great cooks out there that are sharing some of their best recipes. I also love that other great cooks out there share their experiences making these recipes and any variations they might have made. This recipe currently has 5 stars and almost 550 reviews. I can only imagine this will continue to increase in the number of reviews and that the stars will stay the same. This recipe is fantastic.

It makes three loaves of bread, however. The bread doesn't keep very long. So, here are my two suggestions: either make this bread when it will get eaten quickly (either you have a hungry family or you will be having guests), or freeze the loaf (or loaves) that you won't be able to eat quickly. This bread freezes really well, so you can make three loaves, eat one right away, freeze two, or give one away and freeze the other. Good stuff!

Grandma VanDoren's White Bread


3 cups warm water
3 tablespoons active dry yeast
3 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup white sugar
8 cups bread flour


In a large bowl, combine warm water, yeast, salt, oil, sugar, and 4 cups flour. Mix thoroughly, and let sponge rise until doubled in size.

Gradually add about 4 cups flour, kneading until smooth. Place dough in a greased bowl, and turn several times to coat. Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until doubled.

Punch down the dough, let it rest a few minutes. Divide dough into three equal parts. Shape into loaves, and place in three 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch greased bread pans. Let rise until almost doubled.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-45 minutes. The loaves may need to be covered for the last few minutes with foil to prevent excess browning.

Source: submitted by Marilyn VanDoren Sim, found here.

Notes: The baking time is pretty wide. I would suggest baking it for 30-35 minutes, or until nicely browned, and then covering it with foil and baking until you have reached a total time of 40-45 minutes.

1 comment:

  1. I am going to have to try it. Love homemade bread. Your boys are so lucky.

    And I love that book!