Friday, October 15, 2010
World Bread Day: A Trip Down Memory Lane
Year ago, when I was in high school, we were required to take one year of Home Economics. That was back when they actually taught useful things.
I took the sewing/child care semester part during summer school. In the fall, I took the cooking semester.
It changed my life.
I had always been interested in cooking and had dreamed of opening a restaurant, but my Home Ec teacher introduced me to knowledge and skills that I'd never experienced.
For example, she taught us all how to make bread -- quick breads and yeast breads. To this day, I still use the recipes she gave us. They are that good and reliable.
My first yeast bread was called Basic Sweet Yeast Dough.
At some point, I transferred the recipe from my notebook to a note card. Some years later, the card was 'decorated' by one of my children, probably my oldest daughter, since she was an artistic little child.
This sweet yeast dough has a lovely, satiny feel after it has been kneaded for 10 to 15 minutes. While I've made different shaped rolls from it, I always return to the original crescent shapes.
This time, I made one batch of plain, buttery crescents, and another with cinnamon sugar on the insides. I think some Parmesan would work nicely, as well.
When I read the instructions, I realize how incomplete they are. But since I've made this recipe so many times and other kinds of bread so many times, I know how to read between the lines.
Every time I make bread, I think of my former teacher and wish I could tell her what a difference she made in my life. I'd like to think she would be pleased.
Here's the recipe as written. I used to make this dough entirely by hand. While I use my mixer now, I still knead the bread manually.
Basic Sweet Yeast Dough
1 package dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons powdered milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons shortening (or oil or butter)
1 cup flour
1 cup flour
Put the yeast in the 1/4 cup warm water to dissolve.
Put the 1/2 cup warm water, milk, sugar, salt and shortening in a mixing bowl.
Add 1 cup flour and stir into a pasty dough.
Add egg and yeast and beat well to mix the dough. Add one more cup of flour, and mix thoroughly.
Put 1/4 cup flour on a board. Pour out the dough, cover with a bit more flour, and knead. (The dough will be very soft and somewhat sticky.) After kneading for 10-15 minutes, place in a greased bowl, cover, and set the bowl in a warm, dark place until the dough has doubled.
Deflate the dough; pour onto a floured board, and let it rest for 5 minutes.
Divide into two parts, and shape each part into rolls. Let rise again. Brush with melted butter. (For the crescent rolls, roll into a 12" circle, brush with melted butter, then cut into twelfths, rolling each piece from the wide end to the point.)
Bake for about 10-15 minutes at 375 degrees F, or until golden brown.
Makes 2 dozen rolls.
In honor of World Bread Day, October 16, 2010, I am sending my crescent rolls over to Zorra, who is hosting this event for the fifth straight year.
Stop by Zorra's website later this month to see all the wonderful breads that were submitted.