by Anne Dreer,
6 Aug 2006
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
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
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
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
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]