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Confession: I have never baked a loaf of bread from scratch in my entire life.

Second confession: I very rarely make New Year’s resolutions.

Third confession: I am madly and completely in love… with my new Kitchen Aid mixer. She’s red and shiny and I named her Babs. Babs is beautiful and helpful and she has a dough hook, which was just beggin’ to be used.

Thus, I resolved this year to learn to bake bread. And I decided to do it using vintage recipes-and my new mixer-the perfect combination of old world taste and modern convenience-or so I hope.

With that in mind, I began researching recipes. Actually, I looked at some modern bread making tips and recipes and then tried to find a vintage recipe that looked similar-and simple. Most vintage recipes contain giant amounts of ingredients-seven pounds of flour, a pint of yeast, and an unspecified amount of milk, sugar or water. In the vintage kitchen, all the baking for one week was typically done in one day-thus, the huge recipes. Since I’m a bread novice, I steered clear of any recipe where I’d have to guess the amount of any ingredient.

I finally found what I was looking for in, of all things, a child’s cookbook. “A Little Book for a Little Cook” was published in 1905 by Pillsbury, designed to teach little girls how to cook the basics-using their products.

Here is the recipe, which I followed pretty closely.

Ingredients
• 1/2 cup boiling water
• 1/2 cup milk
• 1/2 cake yeast (this amounts to 2 and a quarters teaspoons of yeast)
• 2 tablespoons cold water
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 3 cups flour

Instructions
Soak yeast in 2 tablespoons cold water.

Pour 1/2 cup boiling water into 1/2 cup milk. Let cool to lukewarm. Stir in dissolved yeast and salt. Pour mixture into mixing bowl and add flour.

Now, the recipe tells you to turn the bread onto a kneading board and knead until smooth. But I knew I could let my dough hook do the work. I let Babs knead the dough for 10 minutes on speed three. When she was done, the bread was clinging to the hook but was elastic and not sticky.

I placed the dough in a bowl, brushed it with oil to keep it from getting sticky, and covered it tightly with a towel.

The recipe says to let the bread rise until three times the original size in a warm place. I really don’t have a warm place in my house that’s out of reach of my constantly hungry dog. Instead, I heated by oven to its lowest temperature-170 degrees. Then I turned it off and opened the door for 30 seconds. I put the bread inside and waited.

After an hour, the dough got to about two and a half times its original size and I thought that was good enough! I let my youngest daughter “punch her down”-this is where you basically punch the dough to remove all the air bubbles.

I let Babs knead the dough again for about 2 minutes. Then, I put the dough in a bread pan, the bottom of which I’d sprayed with cooking oil. I reheated the oven again, turned it off, opened the door again for 30 seconds, and popped the dough back in.

After an hour, it had risen, although not quite to double its size.

I took the bread out and heated the oven to 375 degrees. Then I baked the bread for 30 minutes.

The recipe ends by saying, “It will be well to consult some experienced person as to lightness of sponge and dough.” Well, I don’t have any experience but I can tell you the bread was delicious-it was spongy but I wouldn’t call it light. Hearty is a good work to describe it. It was delicious-and the house smelled fabulous-and isn’t that the point of making your own bread?

Next blog post: A cake that looks like a beautiful winter landscape and tastes like Florida sunshine.

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