Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Ruth Schmidt's Bread and Rolls

This is not an exact recipe, but a snap-shot of how she does it.

WHITE BREAD (basic recipe)

She warms some milk on the stove then places it in a large bowl along with some butter, salt, sugar, yeast, and water to which she add about 5 pounds of white flour. She pours this mixture out onto the table and kneads it for a few minutes. Then she lets it rest for at least 10 or 15 mintues--this is her special technique, letting it rest (technically she is saving herself a lot of work, because during this resting period the flour is absorbing the water and the mass is becoming more manageble; it also insures that she won't incorporate too much flour into the dough--make it too stiff). After it rests, she begins kneading it into a smooth mass. She forms it into a bowl, covers it and lets it rise until double, punches it down, recovers it, and lets it rise until double again, then shapes it into loaves, flat bread, or makes cinnamon rolls, or fried bread.


After the second rise, roll out a piece of the dough (about 1 loaf's worth) into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Butter it and sprinkle it heavily with cinnamon and very heavily with light brown sugar. Roll it up wide-side and cut into rolls. Place in a glass baking dish (leave a little room between the rolls for expansion during the final rise and baking), dot with butter and sprinkle on more brown sugar. Let rise until nearly doubled, then bake as directed.


Grease a 9 inch square pan and press some dough into; it should be about 1/2 inch thick. Let rise until nearly double and bake as directed.


Make flatish balls of dough and fry in a 1/8 inch of hot Crisco until brown on both sides (turn them over when the first side is brown).


White bread: 400 for 15 minutes, then 325 for 40 minutes

Flat bread: 375 for 20 minutes

Cinnamon rolls: 400 for 20 minutes

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Here is a detailed recipe for white bread that is close to Ruth's.

2 c. milk (may be part milk and part water)
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. salt
1/4 c. butter (or Crisco)
1/4 c. warm water (105-115 degrees)
2 pkgs. active dry yeast
6 1/2 to 7 c. sifted all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. melted butter

In small saucepan, heat milk just until bubbles form around edge of pan. Remove from heat. Add sugar, salt and 1/4 cup butter, stirring until butter is melted. Let cool to lukewarm (a drop sprinkled on wrist will not feel warm.)

If possible, check temperature of warm water with thermometer. Sprinkle yeast over water in large bowl, stirring until dissolved. Stir in milk mixture.

Add half the flour; beat with wooden spoon, until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually add remaining flour, mixing it in with hand until dough is stiff enough to leave side of bowl.

Turn out dough onto lightly floured board. Cover with the bowl, let rest 10 minutes. Knead by folding toward you, then pushing down and away from you, with heel of hand. Give dough a quarter turn, repeat kneading, developing a rocking motion. Continue kneading and turning 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic and blisters appear on surface.

Place on lightly greased large bowl, turn dough to bring up greased side. Cover with towel. Let rise in warm place (85 degrees). From from drafts, about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk, when two fingers poked into dough leave indentations, rising is sufficient. Punch down dough with fist, turn out onto lightly floured pastry cloth. Divide in half. Shape each half into smooth ball. cover with towel, let rest 10 minutes. Shape each portion into loaf, and place in pan, according to the shaping directions.

Brush top of each loaf with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Cover with towel. let rise in warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, until double in bulk, or until sides of dough reach tops of pans (about 1 hour).

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Bake loaves 40 to 50 minutes; tops should be well browned and sound hollow when rapped with knuckle. Remove from pans immediately, cool well on wire rack, away from drafts.

If lighter crust is desired, cover top of loaves with brown paper or aluminum after 25 minutes in oven.

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