First thing we did once they arrived was to put Nanny to work baking bread. This isn't the first time I've tried getting the recipe from her. When someone has done something for 50 plus years it becomes an involuntary movement. It's difficult to slow them down enough to understand what they're doing. So this time I decided to document it with photos for further analysis.
She says the first thing you HAVE to do is put on your apron and tie your hair up in a scarf, a handkerchief or a pair of panties, whatever you have handy. I opted for a scarf. People think I'm weird enough with chickens living on my back porch. Can you imagine if they stopped by and I had panties on my head?
Then I noticed she put about a cup of warm water in a bowl. Just warm enough as if you were going to feed a baby. To that she added a spoon full of sugar and a package of yeast.
After that she pulled out a giant bowl and poured in a 5lb bag of flour and a hand full of salt. This is where things get hairy for me. I'm one of those people who like real measurements. So I made her measure it in a real, bonafide measuring spoon and it turned out to be about a teaspoon. She also threw in two hand fulls of sugar (about two teaspoons.)
Then she whacked up a half a stick of butter and tossed it in with the yeast mixture.
She started mushing all that up in her hands and started adding water to it. Somewhere around 5 cups of water. Just enough for it to be doughy but not too gooey. There's a fine balance.
Then she pressed start on the bread machine. Er, well that's what I would do. She proceeded to kneed it by hand just like a machine. She's definitely done this before.
You might need to add more flour. The dough texture needs to be like satin.
After that she wrapped the whole bowl up in a blanket and set it aside to rise for about 1 1/2 hours. She punched it down then let it rise again for an hour.
After the second rise she tore out small sections of dough and rolled them into balls. Three balls to a pan. I asked her why she made them into balls instead of one long loaf. She said because that's just the way it's always been done. Okey, dokey then.
One more rise in the buttered pan for about an hour. She made two loaves in a loaf style to satisfy my curiosity.
Turns out she does it because it makes the loaf taller after being baked in the over at 350 for about 45 minutes.
And there you have it. Fifty years of bread baking experience in a nutshell.
I'd highly recommend you serve this toasted with jam. Mmmm. Mmmmm. Good.