’07 Holiday Gifts: Miracle Bread

December 20, 2007 at 11:10 am 25 comments

Bread fresh out of the oven 

This is it – the final piece in the Straight from the Farm’s First Annual Holiday Gift Round-Up bag o’ goodies.  In truth, I hadn’t necessarily planned on making anything else.  But then I figured a package that contained this and this, two items that just begged to be spread on something right out of the bag, had better have a little something else to round it all out.  A loaf of homemade bread would do just the trick. 

I’ve been making bread since before I can remember.  I know this because my mom has a picture of me, standing on a chair that I’d pulled up to the kitchen counter, kneading dough and covered in flour from head to toe.  I’ll see if I can snag it while I’m home for the holidays to put up here for your amusement.  It certainly makes me chuckle every time I see it.   

Dry yeast package make sure your yeast rises like this before proceeding

I’ve also been using the exact same recipe since then.  It came from my mom who snagged it from who knows where.  It’s called “Miracle Bread.”  I bet you have the same question I had….why’s it called that?  I wish I had a concrete answer for you here.  I do have two of my own theories though.  The first is that this likely came out of some old church cookbook (as so many of my mom’s standbys do) and some cheeky housewife in the ‘40s thought putting “miracle” in the title would make her holier than all the other housewives.  Amusing possibility, no? 

Special kind of bread flour I tried for the first time.  It was okay. Stop mixing and start kneading the dough when it reaches this consistency

The second of my theories might be just ever so slightly more plausible, since I know for a fact it’s the truth.  I just don’t know if it’s the real reason behind the bread’s name.  See, this recipe is truly foolproof.  Besides making sure your yeast rises when you first mix it with the water, there’s no way you can mess it up – or at least I haven’t found a way yet and I’ve had my fair share of “woops!” moments with this dough over the years.  It’s also ridiculously adaptable…you can make loaves in pans, loaves of your own shaping, rolls, plain, whole wheat, rye, herbed, raisin, and even cinnamon buns.  I’m going to try to add to that list in January when I put together a Week of Bread for you.  So taking into account its indestructibility and adaptability, the bread is pretty darn miraculous. 

Dough rising in the bowl.

I used this recipe for the whole wheat rolls I made for Fred and his dulce de leche gift.  And then I decided to use it to make a very slightly sweet plain loaf to put in everyone else’s bag.  I bumped up the sugar in the liquid by a scant teaspoon to harmonize with the sweetness of the jam and dulce de leche.  The resulting loaf was proof that just a small change like that gives this bread a whole new personality.  Had I not used up all my whole wheat flour making Fred’s rolls, I might have also thought to make these loaves whole wheat with a touch of honey for the extra sweetness.  I don’t think honey matches the flavors of plain bread nearly as well, but that might just be personal taste. 

A sharp knife can be used to cut dough to make more artful bread

Making your own bread is very rewarding and, I dare say, relaxing.  Forget the bread machine – in my opinion, it’s one of the few modern appliances that takes away from (rather than adds to such as my new dishwasher does) the joy of cooking.   Kneading bread dough is very therapeutic, especially after a stressful day.  And since this recipe is so forgiving, you’ll not have any frustration messing with your “zen”. 

Bread making also allows you to control what goes into this cupboard staple, sidestepping all those questionable preservatives that make the Pepperidge Farm loaves I get last an unnatural month without molding.  A word to the wise though – since it has no preservatives, this bread generally doesn’t hold up for more than a week.  It’s typically gobbled up much faster than that though, and you can prolong its staying power by putting it in the fridge. 

Bread spread with holiday jam and dulce de leche

So, I hope you’ve enjoyed the ’07 Holiday Gifts and feel truly appreciated as readers.  Should I do it again in ’08?  There will be a few more recipes in 2007, but just in case you’re scooting away from your computer soon, let me wish you all happy (and tasty) holidays!   It’s been a wonderful year and wonderful having you here! 

MIRACLE BREAD
My mom’s recipe

Part I
2 c. boiling water
2 T. butter
2 T. sugar
2 t. salt

Combine above ingredients and cool to lukewarm.

Part II
1/2 c. hot (but not boiling) water
2 packages of rapid rise dry yeast (2T.)
1 T. (scant) sugar

Whisk together Part II ingredients in a medium bowl and cover with a towel.  Let yeast rise for 15-20 minutes, being sure it froths up and expands considerably.  If yeast doesn’t rise, toss it and get new yeast before proceeding. 

Once yeast has risen, combine with Part I.  Add 6 to 6 1/2 cups of flour*, mixing with a spoon at first and then using your hands as it comes together.  Add just enough flour to keep dough from being sticky.  Knead dough for a few times and then cover bowl with a towel to let it rise.  Come back to it every 10 minutes to punch it down and knead it some more, repeating this process 4-5 times.   Don’t worry if you leave it longer – just be sure to punch it down a few times before proceeding with baking.

Divide dough in half at least once as it makes two large loaves.  You can also divide it more times if you want to make smaller loaves or rolls.  Place loaves on a greased baking sheet or in greased loaf pans.  Cover again with a towel and let dough rise to double the size.  If you want, you can use a sharp knife to make cuts in the dough to create ridges when they’re baked.  I used an X shape this time on my round loaves for a nice artisan look. 

Preheat oven to 375 F and bake risen loaves for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.   Take loaves from the oven and brush with melted butter or spray with cooking spray to give loaves a nice sheen. 

*The flour can be all unbleached white flour or a mixture of whole wheat and white flour.  Use at least 3 cups of white flour or else the dough won’t be as forgiving. 

(makes two large loaves OR four medium loaves OR a dozen rolls)

Homemade
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’07 Holiday Gifts: Creamy Caramel Fad or Fab?

25 Comments Add your own

  • 1. ywrites  |  December 20, 2007 at 11:13 am

    Wow! This looks and sounds great! I’ll definetly make these this Christmas!

    Thanks!
    Yasmeen
    http://www.ywrites.wordpress.com

    Reply
  • 2. Jennie  |  December 20, 2007 at 11:28 am

    Thanks, Yasmeen! Super easy gift to have on hand for any drop-in guests or those folks that surprise you with a gift you weren’t expecting. :)

    Reply
  • 3. marimann  |  December 20, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    Hi Jenn~
    I have not had very good luck making my own bread (till I got the crockpot insert!) so I’m going to give this a try. Maybe that’s what I need, a miracle! Anyhow, I’ve enjoyed all your holiday recipes; definitely do it again. I have to work on a pumpkin today to get him ready to be made into pies, then I have my husband’s sister’s recipes for fudge and some other goodies that will be my first attempt at making. Wish me luck and thanks for all your excellent writing and recipes through the year. Best in 2008,
    Mari

    Reply
  • 4. Jennie  |  December 20, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    Aw, thanks, Mari!! I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the blog and the holiday recipes. :) Your comments have been much appreciated too! I hope this bread recipe is just the trick to get you going. Sounds like you’ve got a lot cooking between now and the new year. Best wishes! :)

    Reply
  • 5. Jen Loveland  |  December 20, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    Oh bread. Probably the first love of my life. Not that I need more food around this house, but once I read a bread recipe, it just begs me to be baked. These look delicious. I second you on the relaxing aspect of making bread, except of course when it refuses to rise.

    Reply
  • 6. rachel  |  December 20, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    Dishwasher?! Congrats!!
    Your holiday gift recipes have been inspiring, though not to the point that I’ve tried any yet….but insipiring and enjoyable nonetheless! :)

    Reply
  • 7. Jennie  |  December 20, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    Jen – See, that’s what I love about this recipe…you know right from the start when you mix the yeast with the water if it’s going to rise or not. As long as the yeast foams up, you’re good to go. Let me know if you make it – I’d love to hear what you think! :)

    Reply
  • 8. Jennie  |  December 20, 2007 at 3:15 pm

    Rachel – You read right… I have a DISHWASHER! Just got it this week. Technically it was D’s christmas gift since he was sick of washing all the dishes created by the blog. But it’s just as much a gift for myself. ;)

    Reply
  • 9. senchachronicles  |  December 20, 2007 at 11:17 pm

    Bread is my thing. The best part is finding that your dough has doubled, tripled in size!

    Last weekend I baked dinner rolls from a simple cinnamon rolls recipe – without the cinnamon/sugar/butter combo, of course.

    Your finished product looks great and oh so rustic it screams COMFORT FOOD and INSPIRED GIFT. I’ll try it this weekend.

    Thanks Jennie.

    Reply
  • 10. Jennie  |  December 21, 2007 at 7:26 am

    SenchaChronicles – You hit the proverbial nail right on the head…this bread is comfort food at its best! I can’t wait for you to try it. Your dinner rolls sound interesting…. I might have to give that a shot sometime. :)

    Reply
  • 11. gintoino  |  December 21, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    I’ve been wanting to try the “bread doing thing” for a long time, but never had the guts. It always sounded so laborious and dificult… I guess this time I have no excuses for not trying.
    Thank you for all your wonderfull recipes Jennie.
    And Merry Christmas!
    (you should try some of our traditional Christmas deserts…yum yum )

    Reply
  • 12. Jennie  |  December 21, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    Thanks, Gintoino! Merry Christmas to you as well!! The bread is not difficult so definitely try it. :) As for trying your traditional desserts, I just might have to do that!!!

    Reply
  • 13. taylor  |  December 21, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    Your gift recipients are very lucky!

    Happy holidays. See you in the new year!

    Reply
  • 14. Christine  |  December 21, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    So pretty. There’s nothing like an old standby bread recipe; the one I’ve been using for years is the one my mom’s been using for as long as I can remember. Like yours, it’s one you can add anything to, make sweet or savory, but in the end I think I like it best plain. This post is a great reminder that I need to get back to my breadbaking-on-Sundays routine. I do believe I’ll try your Miracle Bread next week. (And yes, I want to see the Jennie-covered-in-flour photo.)

    Where exactly did you fit a dishwasher in your kitchen?!

    Reply
  • 15. Jennie  |  December 21, 2007 at 9:26 pm

    Christine — Breadmaking Sundays?? Now that sounds like a routine worth keeping! You’ll have to show me your mom’s recipe sometime so I can compare. Has she ever made sprouted seeds/grain bread? I need a better recipe for that…

    Photo will come, I promise. ;)

    Yes, about the dishwasher, it’s on of those one’s on wheels so we have it in the corner and then wheel it over to the sink when we need t o hook it up. It’s a little tight in there but it’s worth the sacraficed space to not do all the blog dishes by hand. :)

    Reply
  • 16. Week of Bread: The Basics « Straight from the Farm  |  January 28, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    [...] you’ve never made bread before, you might have the best luck starting with the never-fail Miracle Bread recipe that I posted back in December.  That particular recipe eliminates the biggest potential [...]

    Reply
  • 17. Week 2 of Bread: ‘Sin’namon « Straight from the Farm  |  February 5, 2008 at 10:14 am

    [...] as bread in my book.  You can even make them with just a few adjustments to the Miracle Bread recipe I already provided.   Yes, yes, there’s still time to make the fauschnauts today, but not [...]

    Reply
  • 18. Week 2 of Bread: Sage Soda « Straight from the Farm  |  February 7, 2008 at 10:40 am

    [...] see, how many bread recipes have we gone through together so far?  Miracle Bread, Dried Tomato Braid, Pumpernickel, Pesto Whirl, Pita, Sourdough, Cinnamon Rolls, Cheddar Pepper [...]

    Reply
  • 19. Week 3 of Bread: Honey Multigrain « Straight from the Farm  |  February 20, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    [...] your typical off-the-shelf loaf.  Ironically, she actually beat me to the punch and adapted the Miracle Bread recipe to include wheat berries and chopped walnuts.  Yes, she’s a superstar SFTF pupil!  But [...]

    Reply
  • 20. Recipe of the day: Honey Wheat Bread « Paper Salt  |  February 20, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    [...] about making some homemade bread for a couple of weeks now. When I stumbled across this recipe for Miracle Bread (named so because it’s so fool-proof, AND delicious!) I knew I’d found what I was [...]

    Reply
  • 21. Banana bread recipe  |  February 22, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Homemade bread rocks! :) People think its hard to make but actually it’s very easy. Thanks for the recipe.

    Reply
  • 22. Thursday To-do « omnicurious  |  March 27, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    [...] find a new bread recipe to try [...]

    Reply
  • 23. Sam  |  April 7, 2008 at 8:59 am

    This looks absolutely wonderful, thank you so much for sharing with everyone, I look forward to letting you know how mine turns out. Have a great day!

    Reply
  • 24. carina  |  October 9, 2010 at 9:28 am

    my dough failed… what can i do with it instead of dumping it away?

    Reply
  • 25. "directory"  |  October 13, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    “directory”

    “[...]h corporate events are filled with lots of exciting things and some promotion zx[...]“

    Reply

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