My Mom’s Yeast Bread

This is how my mother taught me to make bread. It’s simple, inexpensive, quick and easy. When Mom made bread for our family, it was twelve loaves at a time, and she baked twice a week, storing the loaves in the freezer. I usually make two loaves at a time, but my children are small yet.

There are many fancy bread recipes out there – entire books have been written about making bread. However, what most of us need is a basic, simple way to make bread.

Measure 4 cups boiling water into a large metal bowl.

Add a large scoop of lard or butter, maybe 1/4 cup if you feel the need to measure.

Let the fat melt and the water cool to just hotter than warm.

Add 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon yeast, depending on the amount of time you can let it rise. The lesser amount will need to rise most of the morning, while the larger amount will be ready to bake in an hour.

Along with the yeast, add 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons salt. These are not exact measurements, and you can certainly use less. Bread without salt or sugar, though, tends to taste very bland. Stir these in and let it froth for about 5 minutes.

Stir in 4 cups flour, making sure it is well mixed in. White or partially whole wheat work equally well. If I’m not in a hurry, I will often let my dough rest for half an hour at this point.

Continue adding flour until the dough can be kneaded without sticking to your fingers.

Knead well. I was told, when learning to make bread, “Knead for fifteen minutes or until your arms fall off.” It is impossible to over knead bread by hand (although it is certainly possible with a machine).

Form 2-4 loaves (depending on the size of your loaf pans) and place in well-greased loaf pans. Slash tops to release steam, or poke holes in tops. Let rise until double. Place in oven at 375F for about 45 minutes or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when thumped.

This recipe adapts so easily because it’s just a basic way of making bread. Use milk instead of water, if you like – the bread will be moister, but it will not keep as long.

Use honey or maple syrup instead of the sugar. It will be slightly stickier and you might want to check

If I am making bread in the morning, I will often follow my mother’s example and add whatever bits are left in the oatmeal pot.

You can adapt this easily to go in a bread machine if, like me, you’ve developed arthritis in your fingers. My 2 pound machine needs, in this order: 1 scant teaspoon yeast, 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon sweetener, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 cup warm water, 1 heaping tablespoon fat.