Bread for the down days

I know that bread is a loaded word these days.  My family does not seem to have a hard time with gluten, but I often avoid even mentioning the word gluten in public, for fear of what I might stir up.  It’s a tricky and sometimes exhausting topic.  I have read many books and articles, trying to figure out what is evil and what is not, in the carb world. I have tried my hand at new kinds of bread- sprouted grain, soaked oat breads, home made sourdoughs- all in an effort to eat less white flour and avoid chemicals.  I grind most of my own flour.  We’ve tried going without bread entirely, but I am a carb kind of girl- especially when I am pregnant.  And when I want comfort food- keep your chocolate and your ice cream- I am looking for a thick slice of warm bread with lots of butter on it.

Today was definitely a comfort food kind of day.  My house, undergoing a huge surge of nesting instinct, is currently all topsy turvy.  Closets are emptied out- bags of give away clothes and trash keep multiplying.  Every time I pull something out of the back of a cupboard, the boys seem to be full of fond memories for it and fight me tooth and nail either to play with it or keep me from tossing it.  I am shifting all the winter clothes out to make room for summer, but winter keeps coming back!  There are snow flakes and white cherry blossoms dancing all over my yard as I speak, and I can’t straighten my house out until the seasons straighten themselves out.

So whenever I feel my life is going to pieces, I head to the kitchen.  Baking is my stress relief, and recipes that can be trusted are a link to sanity.   No hunting the internet for something new and exciting-  it’s time for my worn out, trusty old cookbooks.  Books like my old church cookbook-

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And recipes like this- an old classic from my Auntie Frances that I hadn’t made for many years, but had fond memories of.  As far as bread recipes go- it’s a very easy one- no kneading required.

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You will notice that not only does this recipe contain plenty of white flour and sugar- it also contains two sticks of butter.  So if you need to jump ship here, go ahead.  I am going recklessly on.

 

I was struck with the monochromatic ingredients of this recipe, combined with the white countertop, but it seemed to fit my mood, so I left my rainbow colored spoons out of the picture and went with white on white.

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I have altered the ingredients and the process of making this bread slightly, so I will walk you through it.

Start proofing 1 package (2 1/4 tsp)  of dry yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water.  It needs to get nice and foamy.

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Melt one stick of butter in a large bowl.

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Add 1 cup of milk and two eggs.

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and 1/4 cup of sugar.  (I cut the sugar content in half- that counts for something, right?)

Stir all that together.

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Now add three cups of all purpose flour and 1 tsp. of salt.

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Your yeast should be foamy by now, so go ahead and add that too.

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Stir it all together until you have a very wet, sticky mass.

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That’s it!  Now cover it up and let it rise in a warm place, about an hour.  You can also put this in the fridge and it will keep for several days until you are ready to use it.

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After an hour, it will look nice and puffy.  Just stir it all down again and turn on your oven to 350.

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Now comes the fabulous part.  I hope you haven’t forgotten about that second stick of butter, because it needs to go in a 9×13 pan.  Stick it in your preheating oven until it is all melted.

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Once it’s melted, take your very sticky dough and plop it in big spoonfuls, as evenly as you can, over the butter.

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Then it needs to rise again- only about twenty minutes, till it starts to get puffy again.

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Then into the oven for about 30 minutes.  It should be nice and golden on the top when you pull it out.

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As a side note, the first time I made this for my hubby, he was elated because he thought I had finally figured out how to make brioche the way he remembers eating it as a child in France.  This isn’t really like other brioche recipes that I have tried (except for the butter content) but apparently it’s a pretty close match to the real thing.  So next time the hubby asks me to recreate a childhood recipe, I guess I’ll just keep adding butter until I get it right.

 

Either way I can’t describe to you the amazing buttery, yeasty smell that will permeate your house when you make this, and it will lift your mood instantly.

I was so cheered up, I used a bright blue plate to serve it!

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No need to serve it with butter, but jam isn’t half bad.

And now I can tackle the pile of shoes in my bedroom with renewed vigor!

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