Back when I was a young mother with small children I stayed home with them all day. And I knit. But I also baked all our bread. Since I was still a bit of a hippy then, I put all sorts of things in the bread, sprouts, wheat germ, oatmeal, to get the children to eat something that was good for them. I also put that stuff in the cookies, but that's for another story. I learned from a book, no internet then. And I found that kneading the dough and watching it rise and serving it to my family was soul satisfying, something like knitting. Now the children are grown and I go to work and we have a bread machine and I don't bake bread so much anymore. But it snowed a couple of Saturdays ago and I though bread would warm our house and my soul and I made the easiest bread, Italian. The smell of the yeast and kneading the dough and watching it rise then punching it down were so rewarding. And the bread was delicious.
My recipe, such as it is.
Mix one packet of dry yeast in one cup of very warm water with one teaspoon sugar and one teaspoon salt. Put one tablespoon of olive oil in a bowl and add about two cups of flour (the whole loaf takes about four to six cups of flour depending on the humidity) and mix in the water mixture. Stir and stir and stir adding more flour until you just can't stir it anymore. Dump it out on a well floured surface and knead and knead and knead for about ten minutes adding more flour until the dough is smooth and shiny and not a bit sticky. Put it in an oiled bowl and let it rise in a warm spot for an hour all covered up with a damp towel. Punch it down, that's fun, and roll it out into a rectangle sort of shape and roll it up pinching the ends closed. Make a few slices in the top to allow for expansion and let it rise (covered) again for another hour. Bake at 400 degrees F for about twenty minutes. It will sound hollow when you tap it. It's good warm with real butter. Better with home made soup.
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