Bread is one of my favourite things to bake. When I was young, my mother made all our bread, white, brown, rye, sweet, rolls, pizza, everything. The smell of fresh bread will always make me smile.
So I learned how to make bread from my mother, who had learned from her mother, who probably learned from her own mum. It’s a family tradition, and someday I will teach my children. As a teenager, I would take turns making bread with my mother – we each did a couple batches a bread a week. (There are 7 children in my family, and 4 of them were boys, and I swear they could eat a fresh loaf of bread EACH. BY THEMSELVES. Just cut it in half, slather butter and honey, and your after-school snack is bliss.)
This week, I combined my love of mini baking pans with my love for bread. I’ve a nice recipe for french bread that makes beautiful golden loaves.
My mother knows me oh-so-well and gave me these mini loaf pans for my birthday a few years back. Miniature baking items give my heart unbounded joy.
I do not have a stand mixer, or dough hooks for my hand mixer. So I mixed and kneaded this dough by hand. I love working with dough anyway – I always feel like a Road to Avonlea character with my hands covered in dough, a little flour on my face, and the promise of a beautiful loaf of bread to eat in my future.
Bread is a project that takes some time, but there is downtime in between each time it rises and when it goes in the oven. So pick a book, or take a nap (set a timer!) and wake up to the warm smell of fresh bread.
MINI FRENCH LOAVES
In a large mixing bowl:
- 2 tbsp yeast (or 2 packets)
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 tbsp white sugar.
Mix briefly and let stand 5-10 minutes until proofed (bubbly and growing)
Combine 1/2 cup oil, 2 cup warm water, 1/4 cup white sugar and add to yeast mixture.
Add 3 cup flour.
(if you want a denser bread, especially if you are making mini loaves, you can add one beaten egg)
Add 3 more cups flour, half a cup at a time. (you may not need the last half cup, or you may need a little more. once your bread is sticking together well, stop adding flour. this changes depending on the weather, your altitude, and the type of flour you use)
Flour the countertop generously and turn the dough out onto it. Knead, adding flour as needed, until smooth and elastic. The dough shouldn’t get too dry – it should still feel tacky, but not stick to your hand.
Pour 1 tbsp oil into your mixing bowl. Place ball of dough back in bowl, and turn to coat in oil.
Cover with a clean kitchen towel.
Let rise a 1/2 hour. Punch it down. Let rise another 1/2 hour.
Cut dough in half, then each half into 4 or 5 sections. Shape the dough into loaves and spank it to get any air bubbles out (my mother used to always let us spank the dough when she made it – it was our favourite part as kids!)
Place into greased loaf tins. You can cut 1/4 inch deep diagonal slits in the top if you like. Cover with the kitchen towel. Let rise another hour. Preheat oven to 350F.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Let sit in pans 2 minutes, then turn out onto cooling rack.