is made easy
DEAR MELBA: November is National Bread Month. Besides, some folks love to give homemade bread for Christmas gifts or make it for Christmas dinner.
However, we who bake know the recipe and instructions for Amish Bread can be overwhelming. Over the years I have discovered, it isn't necessary for it to be so difficult. So, here are my simplified instructions and recipe.
When someone gives you a starter, you can stir it every day and feed it when it needs it. You notice this when the starter is working and slows down. Feed it with 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk. Mix the flour and sugar together before adding the milk so it doesn't lump. Mine rises in a square plastic container with a lid. You can see it rise when it's working. You also can feed the starter double the amount or several days in a row if you want to bake more bread than usual. You can feed it half the amount if you don't want to bake this much. You can actually bake the same day you feed it. I have done this 2 or 3 times during the week. If you will be gone a few days or a week, just put the starter in the refrigerator and take it out when you get home and stir and feed it.
If not baking as much, it's a good idea to take 1 cup of starter and put it in a quart freezer bag, date it and put in the freezer. When ready to use, take it out, leave in the refrigerator overnight, transfer to container with a lid and feed it 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk. Stir well with a wooden spoon. You'll now need a gallon freezer bag, although it is not as good as a lidded plastic container. Freezer bags develop tiny holes, possibly due to the graininess of the sugar when kneading the mixture.
I also bake bread in metal pans and they turn out just fine. I get the dry ingredients ready the night before and grease my pans.
If I want to make banana bread, I mix 1 cup mashed bananas with the walnuts and nutmeg and add it in the morning.
If I'm adding craisins, walnuts, etc., I mix those extra ingredients into the dry ingredients.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, optional
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 large box vanilla instant pudding mix
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, optional
1 cup golden raisins, craisins, currants, dried cherries or chopped dates — (be creative)
1 1/2 cups starter
2/3 cup corn or other oil
3 eggs (I only use jumbo eggs)
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
Heat oven to 350-degrees. Grease 2 regular-size loaf pans or 6 one-pound loaf pans; sprinkle with a mixture of 1-cup sugar and 4 teaspoons cinnamon. In large mixing bowl, stir together dry ingredients, down to and including raisins, mixing well.
In another mixing bowl, combine starter, oil, eggs, milk and vanilla. Stir to mix well. Add to dry ingredients, stirring well. Pour into prepared pans.
You also can make muffins. Just put cupcake papers in muffin tins and fill 2/3 full. Sprinkle tops with the cinnamon sugar mix.
Bake regular and 1 pound loaves 45-to-55 minutes. Use toothpick or cake tester to make sure the bread is baked through. Bake muffins 25-to-35 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing.
Note: If you bake with glass pans, turn oven down 25 degrees and bake an additional 5-to-10 minutes.
— CAROLINE MEDLINGER, Oklahoma City
If you have a problem other readers might help solve or an idea you'd like to share, write to Melba's Swap Shop, Box 25125, Oklahoma City, OK 73125. Please include your name and address.