Homemade Bread

Traditional German bread always has rye flour in it. This gives it taste. Also, you have to put enough salt in. The potato part is a trick that my mom says will keep it tasting fresh longer. Whatever. Just cooled off after baking, this stuff is the only kind of bread for me. I had some non-Germans over for some bread and cheese and sausage and they said "should I eat dinner before coming over?" Luckily they didn't and they all wanted to know where you can get bread like that and even how to make it. Success. The following is what I wrote up for that purpose.

Caraway seeds are a matter of taste. I hate them, so you won't find them in my bread but lots of people find them essential.

For 2 medium sized loaves

Dissolve sugar in 1/2 cup lukewarm water (not hot, or it will kill the yeast) then while stirring constantly add the yeast (if you don't stir all the time it will clump up.) Let the mixture stand someplace warm for 15 minutes or so and it will foam up.

You need a large bowl to make the dough.

Mix all the other ingredients thoroughly, then add 1L very warm water and work it with hands just enough to get a lukewarm mixture that won't kill the yeast. Then add the yeast glop from before.

Now knead as much as you have patience for. You want a really nice homogeneous dough. It will stick to everything including your hands and the bowl. I grease my hands with margarine before I start to make it easier to get the dough off again but it's still messy.

When it's all kneaded up but still sticky, clean hands, then dust them with flour, and (re-flouring hands frequently) detach the dough from the bowl and make into a non-sticky blob.

Let this blob, covered by a dishcloth or something so it doesn't dry up and get a crust, rise for two hours in a warm environment. Not too hot or the yeast will get killed. After two hours it will have maybe doubled in volume.

Now knead down again as much as you can, and form two loaves. Place these on an 11x17" cookie sheet which you have greased and floured (else it will stick so much it can take the "nonstick" coating right off). Let them rise, covered, for another half hour.

Brush the loaves with water, then bake one hour at 350F. After removing, brush again with water or the crust will get very hard, but don't let water get underneath or the bottom will get soggy! I brush them while they are sitting on a wire rack.

That's it. Let cool for at least an hour before you even think of cutting them open (they are still a bit gooey when fresh and hot) then cut open and -- moment of truth -- hope they baked through. Oven temperatures vary; with the one I use set at 350F the crust is not too dark after an hour and the bread is done.

Bread is not an exact science. Flour, water, salt, yeast in almost any combination will make some sort of it. The above is my most recent attempt, not exactly mom's or anybody else's recipe. Came out OK though. You can adjust the taste with more or less whole wheat and rye flour, but if you go too high on either it will be bad.

Have fun.

It's messy, I warned you.

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