Introduction: Mennonite Classic White Bread
If you are like me, and you have a heritage where all the best foods come from, and you simply can't ever get enough of them, them you and I are very similar. I'm posting this recipe to share one of the greatest loaves of bread you will ever taste! This is the kind of bread German Farmers made for themselves while farming the Steps of Russia and the Ukraine. They then came to North America After they escaped the clutches of Lenin, who was determined to kill them. They brought their skills and recipes with them and helped to form the Western Part of Canada, the U.S. and even Mexico. My heritage is from poor farmer stock, but we know how to make things and one of them is Bread! I want to share my history with you and give you a taste of the food we enjoyed on a regular basis. I dare say that it's probably healthier than that wonder bread stuff! Give it a try and see if you agree with me, that this is one of the simplest and best tasting white bread recipes ever created.
Step 1: Step One: Gather Your Ingredients
This recipe is the classic Go-to recipe that most German Menonite Families use. I can only guess how old this recipe is, since my Grandmother, who was born in 1900, learned this recipe from her Mother. So it is most definitely older than anyone living today. The thing about it is HOW you prepare it. It requires Strength and Patience to make. Even when you use a Mixer to make your dough, like I'm going to do, you need to get physical with this dough. However, the result is nothing short of Incredible. SO without any further Talk, I will give you the ingredients list.
- 1 tsp. white sugar (5mL)
- 1/2 cup warm water (124 mL)
- 1 pkg active dry yeast (8g)
- 5 cups warm water (1.25 L)
- 3/4 cup oil (175 mL)
- 3 tbsp sugar (50mL)
- 1 tbsp salt (15 mL)
- 12 cups flour approx. (3000 mL)
This recipe makes 4 full loaves of bread. Please read this whole instructible BEFORE attempting to make this bread. I have tried my best to write this instructible as clearly as possible so that anyone can make this bread, however, reading the whole instructible will give a little bit larger base of knowledge to start with rather than following the steps without pre-reading the instructions.
Step 2: Step 2: Gather Your Tools
The tools you'll need are the basic ones for baking. You'll need bread pans if you want the classic loaf, and this recipe makes 4 loaves worth of dough. You can also use a cookie sheet and shape your dough as you wish and bake it on that as well. so, here's the "list" if you can call it that.
- 4 bread pans
- optional cookie sheets for larger european style loaves
- a clean stable work surface (I use the dining table)
- rubber or flexible plastic spatula(s), spoons, etc.
- A Large bowl with enough room to hold a large mound of dough
- a sharp knife (optional for slicing the top of the loaf, for you artisans out there!)
- A stand mixer able to handle a large amount of dough (you can use a bowl and a sturdy wooden spoon if you have no mixer)
- An oven, of course. If you have a convection oven, turn off the cirulation fan or the dough will be dry as a popcorn fart.
- cooling racks, to help the bread cool evenly and quickly
- Measuring spoons and cups for acurate measurements.
- a small bowl for the yeast to rise in.
Okay, here comes the disclaimer (for those among us who lack...certain decision making skills): I ain't liable in any way if you screw this up! Don't burn yourself and don't burn your house down either. If you are under aged, then please ask your parent(s) for help, this is not something an under-aged person should try alone. Use proper PPE (that's short for Personal Protection Equipment ), like oven mits and an apron too. Don't go sticking any fingers in the mixer while the thing is workin', they might come out in a different shape. And don't stick the spoon or the spatula or knife or anything else in there either. I think I've about covered the liability issue, yes?
Right, now that you've gathered your tools as well as your ingredients, we can now move on into the instructions for the dough. :
Step 3: Step 3: Making the Dough
Okay First off you want to oil/grease your loaf pans and/or cookie sheets. Disolve the 1 tsp sugar into the 1/2 cup of warm water, then sprinkle the package of active dry yeast into the liquid evenly, put into a warm spot and let rise for about 10 minutes. Sometimes the yeast can take a little longer, so don't panic and pour out your mixture just yet. Give it a little longer, maybe even place the bowl with the mixture, into a larger bowl with some warmer water in it. while waiting, place all the remaining ingredients, EXCEPT the flour into your mixing bowl. When the yeast has risen for 10 minutes (or so, some yeasts have been in storage for a long time, so they need a little more time and warmth to do their job), add to the ingredients in the mixing bowl, and begin mixing. You want to add the flour a little at a time and beat until smooth. Keep adding and mixing until smooth, in this way, until you have a large lump of smooth elastic dough. when you touch it, it shouldn't stick to your fingers. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a clean tea-towel and place in a warm area to rise. It will need to double in size, when that happens knead it down, and let rise again; 'til it doubles in size again, then knead it down again and cut it and form into four loaves of qual size. Place into the greased bread pans, cover and let rise once more, til doubled in bulk. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, until Golden brown and sounding hollow when tapped with a finger.
Now, at this point there might not be much else to add, except when you take your bread out of the pan, place on a cooling rack to cool. This is when you have to stand guard by the bread, you may be temped to go to the bathroom but don't do it, because the bread will be half eaten by the time you get back! Or You may have sore Temptations to eat it too. It would be best for the bread to cool down until you can hold it in your hand without burning yourself! If you cut into it too early, the bread will collapse and it will be a serious wadded loaf of bread. Let it cool until you can hold it, then cut into it and it should still be warm enough inside to melt butter! Then enjoy your four loaves of bread. As you can tell, there are no preservatives in this bread so it is meant to be eaten soon after. So Freeze the other loaves and use them as you need. Be prepared to make this bread often when others get a taste of it, like other family members and close friends who you may have swapped sandiches with at work or school (yeah, riiiiight).
I just have to reinforce a couple things here. The bread MUST be kneaded twice before rising in the pans for baking. This is to ensure that the bread will have an even distribution of "gas bubbles" that make leavened bread possible. Without the double rising, the yeast can generate large pockets of gas in the bread that will make sandich making and other bread using a little less easy, due to large open pockets. So if you don't mind getting large empty pockets inside your bread loafs then you can go ahead and skip the double kneading, and take your chances with your bread. Also, for oiling your pans, I suggest using veggie shortening, so that you have a proper coverage of the pan. Oil will run down the sides and collect at the bottom, so try rubbing them with some shortening.
Step 4: Step 4: the Aftermath of Baking Bread
When you are done, this will have made you a little tired and ready to sit down. Hopefully, you have others in your home whom you can extort into cleaning your mess, Like I do! Ha ha. But I do have a couple of things to say about this recipe and basic clean up. Honestly I have no idea how old the recipe is. The recipes my Grandmother used were in her head, and this is one we got written down. Many other Menonites and their descendants might have this recipe in their home. I know many who do. It would then make it part of a Community. Many others whom I know and aren't related directly to me and they all have the exact same recipe. I am used to using another recipe by my grandmother that uses milk and butter but that one is more of a dough for butter buns. This recipe though, has always been the kind of bread that we had at our Family gatherings. I do hope that you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.
Cleaning up spilled flour should be cleaned up with a broom/brush to get the bulk of it, then you can use a rag soaked in COLD water to wipe up the rest. Hot water will react to the gluten in the flour and give you a gooey mess. your bread pan may say "non stick" somewhere on it, but believe me when I say it, OIL/GREASE your pans BEFORE you bake bread in them! I've had bread stick so firmly in a "NON-stick" bread pan, that I pulled the whole top off the bread in the process of fighting to get the loaf out. After that debacle I oiled my pans ever since. If you are using the classic tin pans for bread then you most definitely need to oil it or use vegetable shortening to grease them up. I used vegetable shortening to grease the pans, but that is because if I use oil, I can't tell if they have been oiled or not and that makes me nervous, so my personal preferance is to use veggie shortening. Just to add one more thing, is that using Shortening inside your bread pans will give your bread a more even and beautiful crust. I also get my kids in on the action with this recipe. They can add the ingredients and grease the pans for me, and when they taste the bread, they want to learn how to do it themselves! This is a great way to teach your kids how to cook! :)
That's it folks, hit the vote button for me if you remember having a Sandwich made from Home made bread, with a nice slice of Honey Ham, and a little mustard. The slices of bread were always thicker than the store bought stuff! And maybe a bowl of hot soup on the side...yeah, you know what I'm talking about, bliss baby...pure bliss. The kind of feeling you get when you take your first bite, and your whole head and neck just feels like you're being rubbed with rabbit fur, and you just close your eyes and chew and...Oh man...I have to make a sandwich now! Please vote for this classic white bread recipe. And thank you for stopping and spending the time to read this instructible.