The Smell of Love and Goodness

“I don’t like the smell of bread baking.”  said no-one ever.  Everyone likes the smell of bread baking.  Then, getting Mom to cut  a slice off a warm loaf and spreading a slice with butter that will melt in.  Mmm.

I come from a long line of women who were all excellent bread bakers.  My Grandma Schumacher and her sister Aunt Lenice passed down recipes that I’ve used since I was a freshman in high school.  We’re talking nearly 50 years ago!

My Mom was a great bread baker, but I think her specialty was Sticky Buns.  Of course, my sister and I followed in her footsteps, and it makes me smile to know our daughters are following in ours.

Whenever we were at Grandma’s, for breakfast we always had a sweet roll made from Aunt Lenice’s recipe.  I can remember sitting on a chair and watching Grandma mix and form the rolls.  Then the sweet smell of bread and cinnamon filled the house.  I’m taken back to my childhood every time I bake bread.  Which isn’t as often as it used to be, but I bet it’s more often than a lot of people.

There really is much to be said about the love that goes into baking bread.  It’s not just a matter of mixing the ingredients and putting the mixture in the oven.  No, I carefully measure each cup of flour, as to not pack it down.  I’ve often thought about weighing it, but ‘Nah’.  Grandma didn’t.

I use a wire whisk to combine the flour, sugar, and salt.  The yeast is stirred into warm water (for very special occasions I’ll substitute milk) to ‘proof‘ until perfect.  That’s something you just have to feel good about.

For everyday bread I use lard.  I know!  Don’t judge me.  For rich flavor I use butter – Real butter, no substitutes.

Texture is important too.  Again, for those special times, I add a couple of eggs to the mix. Early on, we had chickens.  When we had an abundance of eggs, even the everyday bread was special.  Even more than the eggs, the kneading is ever-so-important.  I remember asking Mom how long to knead it.  There’s a whole science about it, but I’m not that person to talk to about that.  Her reply was, “Oh, about 10 minutes, or whenever it ‘feels right’.”  The more you make bread, the more you’ll get the feel for if it’s ready, or not.  That being said, I rarely go the full 10 minutes.

So, now for the drum roll – the recipes.  These recipes aren’t any different from the recipes you’ll find anywhere on the internet, but they are Grandma Schumacher’s and Aunt Lenice’s and that’s what makes them special for us.

I hope you enjoy time to get to know the joy in baking, and breaking, of bread.