...our favorite bread recipe!
Although ready made French baguettes are available on almost every street corner, whole wheat, pre-sliced bread certainly is not. A few of the bakeries sell it in tiny loaves (i.e. it would take about 4 of them for our family to have sandwiches or grilled cheese...), but in general, if you want loaves of bread, you make them yourself.
In the past, we've had a house helper who worked about 6 hours each day: baking bread and other goodies, cooking, cleaning, hanging out laundry, ironing... while I focused on home schooling and writing Sheep Tales scripts. This term, we've decided not to engage a house helper... so that means that I'm doing the bulk of that work, with lots of help from the rest of the family (even Jonathan, Elsie Mae and Mary Michelle pitch in). That also means that I'm the bread baker for the family, and in the 2 months we've been back, if I've heard it once I've heard it 1000 times: "Have you found Madame Safana's bread recipe?"
Never mind that I was the one who gave the recipe to her and taught her how to make it... in the eyes of our children, SHE is the master bread maker and they were missing a Niger favorite: Madame Safana's homemade bread with peanut butter, cinnamon and sugar for breakfast.
Last week, I finally
found "un"-stored the recipe, praising the Lord that it survived unscathed by termites, and began using it. I also pulled out my brand new Kitchen Aid stand mixer, figuring I'd let it do the kneading for me.
I bake bread - 8 loaves or 6 loaves and a batch of cinnamon rolls - every Friday morning. I get up at 4, mix up the recipe and bake it... ideally having a fresh, steaming loaf ready for breakfast on Friday morning. I quickly discovered that while the Kitchen Aid is a wonderful tool, my bread recipe is too large to use it, even when halved. So, I'm still kneading bread the old-fashioned way, but not minding it too much (more on that later this week... it is a great time to pray and meditate on God's Word) as I listen to the call to prayer every Friday morning.
Many have asked what bread recipe I use, so I thought I'd share it with you. It comes from The Not-strictly Vegetarian Cookbook... I bought it because the title intrigued me... and have found many delightful recipes within and because it is a health-crazed, totally from scratch cookbook, the recipes require very little adaptation to use here in Niger. It really has become one of my favorites (ranking third behind my Niger Common Pot and my favorite wedding gift - which means I've been using it almost 16 years now - All-Butter Fresh Cream Sugar-Packed No-Holds-Barred Baking Book!) My copy, however, no longer looks nearly so nice as the picture beside... It is dogeared, oil splattered, coffee stained and otherwise looking well-used.
Without further ado or yattering about, here's our favorite bread recipe. Let us know if you try it and what you think of it!
- 4 cups whole wheat flour (+ or -)
- 7 cups white flour (+ or -)
- 1 cup oatmeal
- 4 cups warm milk
- 4 tbsp dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 3 tbsp salt
- 6 tbsp oil
- 1 cup honey or syrup
Dissolve yeast in warm water, adding about 1 tsp of honey/syrup. Set aside. Heat milk. Combine salt, oil and warm milk. Add honey/syrup and blend well. Add oatmeal. Begin adding flour a cup at a time, beginning with whole wheat flour, until a runny dough is formed. Add softened yeast. Stir well and continue adding flour until dough comes away from sides of bowl. Turn out on floured board and knead for about 10 minutes (I just knead in the bowl... less mess...), adding flour until dough is no longer sticky. Rub dough with oil, spinning it around and flipping it over to make sure all sides are oiled. Set in warm place to rise. When doubled in bulk, punch down and knead again for 5 to 10 minutes. Divide into 4 quarters. place inoiled bread pans and let rise again. Tops can be brushed with beaten egg if desires. Bake in 350' oven for abotu an hour till well borwned.
This is also the recipe I use for cinnamon rolls... after the first rise roll dough flat. Spread softened butter and then sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar to taste. Roll like a jelly roll and slice in about 3/4 inch slices. Place, touching each other, in oiled cake pan or baking sheet. Let rise again and then bake at 350' for 45 minutes. While warm, drizzle glaze made from vanilla, powdered sugar and a bit of water.