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"A pinch of this, a dash of that, a few cupfuls" was how our mothers and grandmothers told us to prepare a family recipe." ~RMKH


Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors

     
 

Baking Bread

by Anne Dreer, 6 Aug 2006

Comment:  Ann recollects baking large amounts of breadóduplicating her motherís baking methods.  With so many hints and suggestions for bread recipes I thought I'd put in my five cents worth.  When my three children where young, we moved from Toronto to a farm. I baked nearly all of our bread. It was an almost all-day job.  I used:

  • 20 pounds of all-purpose flour

  • 2 or 3 pounds of whole wheat or rye flour or just added some bran.

  • 2 cups shortening

  • 1 cup salt

  • Enough lukewarm water to make medium firm dough

The yeast  (and sour dough) was always in lukewarm water with a little sugar (it speeds it up).  I mixed the dough in a plastic baby bathtub especially bought for that purpose.  Sometimes I saved some of the dough for the next batch (sour dough). I let the dough lump dry. It had to be soaked in lukewarm water to be used again.  I always used some yeast as well.  To give the bread a more sour dough taste, I sometimes made the dough or the starter the night before. . This was before we had convection ovens; so it took quite some time to bake all those loaves.  I usually put two on a large cookie sheet and very seldom used a loaf pan. In the old country the loaves were always round and high. When the bread was almost done, it was brushed with water to make it shiny. When I was little, my mother used a goose feather for that.  The water was called Plapperwasser.  If you gave it to small children to drink, he or she would learn to talk sooner plappern).

In Croatia my mother only used white flour and I believe she only used sour dough for leavening, so she didn't have to buy yeast. We always had white bread.  It was always baked in an outside oven where she was able to bake a whole week's bread at once.  Before baking the dough was divided into loaves, which were then put into baskets that were lined with white towels to rise. The baskets were called Backsimbl.  The oven was preheated, usually with cornstalks. To test the oven temperature, she tied a goose feather* to a stick and held it into the oven.  If the feather melted, the oven was hot enough.. The cinders were pushed to the very back of the oven and the individual loaves put in with a long handled Brotschieber, a long pole with a round board at the end like they use in pizza ovens. If there was a bit of dough left, it was flattened and baked with the bread. That was called lepinje pronounced leppinnye (you didn't really think pita bread was just recently invented, did you?).   This was usually eaten with lard or drippings and salt and paprika.

After the bread was finished, they put a pot of beans into the oven. It was started to boil on the stove and finished "baking" in the oven.  This was very practical in the summer, as they didn't have to heat up the kitchen when cooking beans.  Not that they spent much time in the kitchen
in the summer.

*Goose feathers were very versatile. When a goose was prepared for cooking, the wings were saved and used as Flederwisch as a hand brush for sweeping out corners and hard-to-reach places.
 

[Edited by Rose Mary Keller Hughes, Recipe Coordinator. Published at DVHH by Jody McKim Pharr, 6 Aug 2006]

 
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