I think it’s only appropriate that I start my blog with the single most important and memorable recipe I know. My grandmothers bread recipe! My grandmother made all kinds of bread but her rustic Italian bread is legendary. This is affectionately known by my family as “Granny Bread”. I lived next door to my grandmother for many years and I remember that smell coming from her house that called my name and inevitably drew me over to visit.
My grandmother passed away without passing on her method to anyone in the family. My Aunt Jean and I worked for several weeks many years ago to piece together her memories of when my grandmother was making bread and we came up with a method that is as close to “Granny Bread” as we could possible imagine. Nothing will ever be the authentic version, but this version comes very close. One thing we learned as we experimented was that this recipe should not be cut into less quantity. It needs to be made with 5lbs of flour to make the bread as close to “Granny Bread” as possible.
I remember my grandmother saying “it’s a great day to make bread”, but I have no idea what she meant by that. After experimenting with baking bread for years, I now think it means it was probably a hot and humid day because those are the kinds of days that I’ve produced the best consistency and rise in my own bread.
5lbs all purpose flour sifted (my grandmother always used King Arthur)
3 Packets active dry yeast
2 Cups warm water
3 Tbls. sugar (1 for each yeast packet)
4 Cups Hot Water (110 degrees)
3 Tbls. salt (1 for each yeast packet
1/4 cup of Vegetable Oil
Mix the 2 Cups of Warm Water, yeast and sugar into a bowl.
Allow the Yeast to begin to proof (this is when it gets frothy on top-should take about 5 minutes).
Mix 4 Cups hot water with Salt.
Place the flour in a large bowl and make a large well in the center.
Add the yeast mixture, salt water and oil into the well.
Once all ingredients are mixed, place the dough on a smooth surface and knead until the dough is smooth (approximately 5-10 minutes).
Place the dough in a bowl and cover with a cloth.
Allow the dough to rise until doubled in size (approx. 45 minutes).
Punch the dough down and allow it to rise again until doubled in size (approx. 45 minutes).
Cut the dough into even portions and form into loaves (this should make 4-5 medium loaves)
Place the formed loaves in a bread pan or on a baking sheet as desired.
This is a good time to pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
(These are the actual bread pans my grandmother used. I got them after both my grandmother and grandfather passed away and I treasure them as my most prized cooking tools! )
Allow the dough to rise agin until doubled in size.
You have to be patient with this step. If it’s not a “great day to make bread” it could take up to 2 hours, but let it double in size or the bread will not be the incredible consistency of “Granny Bread”.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes or until the bread makes a hollow sound when tapped on top.
As you can see I used 3 bread pans and one (in the back of picture) was on a baking sheet in a more rustic style larger loaf.
Ok, this is the hardest step of all…..Let the loaves cool entirely before cutting into them. You will ruin the bread if you do not allow them to cool. You can always reheat the bread in a microwave or slice it and toast it if you like warm bread, but it should be completely cool to allow the bread to finish.
A special thanks to my Aunt Jean (Nut Jean) for helping me recreate this bread and the many great memories that go along with it!!
These are my actual notes, as you can see, they are well-worn!!
Ciao, for now!! Mike!