When your grandmother was baking, everyone knew it. The scent of her homemade breads and rolls seemed to drift through the neighborhood and would drive everyone in the house crazy with anticipation waiting for the light brown crust to form that let Grandma know the bread was done. Today, it seems that the art of homemade bread making has been lost. With frozen dough and rolls available in the store, people today can’t appreciate the work that went into those delicious rolls and loaves of bread. Just once, why not try to mix it the way that Grandma did and impress your family.
Mix the butter from fresh cream. This is the way that it was done in the early 1900s when white bread was first introduced in America. If it is possible to obtain the cream from a dairy, do it. If not, use the heavy whipping cream you find in the store. Pour three cups into a glass mason jar. Put the lid on and shake the jar for 20 to 30 minutes. The solid parts of the cream, the butter, will separate from the liquid, which will be a rich buttermilk.
Pour the buttermilk out of the butter into a measuring cup. You should have two cups of buttermilk. If not, add a little more from your gallon of milk, but make sure the milk is warm. Put the two cups of buttermilk into a large boiler.
Spoon out 1 tablespoon of the butter and add to the boiler with 2 tsp. of salt and 2 tbsp. of brown sugar. Refined sugars were not in vogue in the 1900s so using brown sugar will get you as close to the real thing as possible.
Dissolve two packages of baker's yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water in a separate bowl. Yeast used to be available in the form of small cakes that would dissolve in warm water. Today, it is available in single portion envelopes.
Heat the boiler until the butter and sugar melt together but don’t allow it to get to a boil. Add the dissolved yeast. Stir and remove from heat.
Add the 6 cups of flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Remember that this is Grandmother’s flour. Refined flours were not available at this time either. Flour came in 50-lb. sacks and was sifted to get the mealy bugs out of the flour. If you have a grain supply in your area, see if they have the unrefined white flour available. If not, you’ll have to cheat on this step and use grocery store brands.
Flip the boiler over on a floured surface and cover the dough with a clean, dry towel. Let it rise to twice the original size. Then, divide it into loaves in pans and let rise again until it is twice its original size. This amount of dough will make two large or four small loaves of bread this depends on the size loaf pans you have available. The dough from one large loaf of bread will fill 72 muffin tins for rolls.
Make rolls from the dough by forming the dough into small balls and inserting into greased muffin tins. Wait for the rolls to rise to twice their size.
Bake the loaves for 25 to 30 minutes at 400 degrees. For rolls, a full muffin tin of rolls should take 15 to 18 minutes at 400 degrees. Add butter to the tops when the loaves or rolls come out of the oven.
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