The Blessing of Bread

In ancient times, bread was considered vital for existence. The women or servants of the house would rise very early each morning to bake the day’s bread on hot stones or in earthenware jar ovens.  The baked loaves were usually thin disks, about seven inches in diameter. A  normal serving was three loaves.

Everyday bread was made of barley which ripened early in the season. But in difficult times, millet or spelt was used, or even crushed beans. Wheat bread was considered an item for trade. It was a luxury.

So this week, we are offering you the luxury of a special wheat bread Dale has created—Orange Honey Bread.

Sometimes Dale likes flavors that are so bold and bright they almost make his teeth hurt. And sometimes he likes flavors that are delicate and light. This bread is one of those delicately flavored things. In fact, some people may not be able to name it. They just eat it because it tastes good.

Orange Honey Bread

You will need:

Zest from one Orange                       1 Tablespoon Honey

Juice from one Orange                      1/2 teaspoon Salt

1 package Instant Yeast                     3 cups Bread Flour

1 cup Milk

1 Tablespoon Oil, butter or shortening

Preparation:

1. Remove the zest from one orange with a zester. It will come off in little strings, so chop it fine with your chef’s knife. (Don’t skip chopping it.)

Zesting an Orange

2. Squeeze the juice from that same orange.

3. Heat one cup milk to room temperature. The milk must be warm, not hot, or it will kill the yeast.

4. Coat a loaf pan with oil, butter or shortening.

Proof the Yeast:

1. Pour the envelope of yeast into a large mixing bowl.

2. Mix half of the warm milk and half of the honey with the yeast.

3. Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes or until a foam starts to develop on the surface of the milk.

Mix the Ingredients:

1. Pour the remainder of the milk and honey into the bowl.

2. Add the zest and orange juice.

3. Add the salt and flour and stir everything together with a spoon until you get a ball of dough.

Knead the Dough:

1. Knead the dough for 10 minutes by hand or with a dough hook in an electric mixer.

2. Put the dough in the bowl and toss  it to coat the dough with the oil.

3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set the bowl in a warm place until it has doubled in bulk.

Shape the Dough:

1. Pour the dough out of the bowl and flatten it with a rolling pin or your fist.

2. Roll the dough up like a large jelly roll. Then shape it to fit your loaf pan. Roll it tightly to eliminate bubbles. Then place it in your loaf pan.

Getting ready to Bake

3. With a sharp knife, cut three diagonal slits into the top of the loaf about one fourth inch deep. These slits are made in the top to permit the dough to expand should a dry skin develop on the dough.

Proof the Dough:

1. Place a pan of hot water in your cold oven.

2. Slide the loaf into the  oven to double in bulk.

3. The oven should be off. Resist the temptation to “hurry” the yeast by turning on the oven. It will kill the yeast.

Bake the Loaf:

1. Take the loaf out of the oven.

2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

3. When the oven is heated, slide the loaf back into the oven.

4. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes.

5. When the pan is cool enough to handle, turn the loaf out to cool completely.

6. If possible, save a slice to toast tomorrow morning with that second cup of tea.

             

              Expanding Your Understanding

Baking bread is one of the wonders of the kitchen. How flour, water and yeast come together to make a loaf still amazes me. And it is so easy once you understand the basic steps.

1. Proof the yeast.

2. Mix the ingredients.

3. Knead the dough.

4. Proof the dough.

5. Shape the dough.

6. Proof the loaf.

7. Bake the loaf.

I. Proof the Yeast: Yeasts are living one-celled microorganisms that turn carbohydrates into alcohol and carbon dioxide. As long as they are dry and cold, they are dormant, but give them something to eat and drink, and a comfortable environment and those little guys raise all kinds of ruckus.

So here, “proof” means mix a little liquid and sweetener, and let them have at it! I usually mix the yeast with half the liquid and sweetener that the recipe requires and let it sit. If the surface of the liquid has foam on top after 10 to 15 minutes, then you have “proved” the yeast is alive, and you can continue with the recipe.

II. Mix the Ingredients: Pour the remaining ingredients (liquids first) into the mixing bowl and stir into a ball with a spoon.

III. Knead the Dough: Pour the ball of dough onto a lightly floured work surface and flatten the ball into a circle. Next, pull the top part of that circle toward you, folding that circle into a semi-circle or a half-moon. Turn the semi-circle 45 degrees, flatten it again with your hands, then fold the top toward you again. Repeat this process for about ten minutes. This is called “kneading.” When you fold that top part over the bottom part, it stretches the dough. That stretching action develops the gluten that holds the bread together. Now you don’t have to do this fold-stretch-turn action precisely. You can stretch the dough any way you want.

I have fun with it. I slam it down onto the counter top, punch it with my fist, toss it into the air, wad it into a ball, and pull it apart. It is a great stress reliever. If you have a dough hook on your electric mixer, you can let the machine knead the dough, but then you would miss all the fun, wouldn’t you?

IV. Proof the dough: Coat a clean mixing bowl with shortening, butter or oil. Roll the ball of dough around in the bowl until it is lightly coated, then cover the bowl with the dough in it using plastic wrap. Set the bowl in a warm place (not hot, warm) until it doubles in size.

You can stand and watch if you want, but I would find something more interesting to do because it takes about an hour. I’m painting, typing this recipe and scrubbing the kitchen floor while making bread. The floor was bad news, believe me!

V. Shape the Dough: Shape the dough into loaves or rolls or whatever you want to make. If you are going to put any “stretch marks” in the dough, this  is the time to do it.

VI. Proof the Loaf: Here it is again, folks: proof and proof again! Put a pan of hot water in your oven. The oven should be off. Put your loaf into the oven above the hot water, and let it double in size again (another hour). The hot water is for humidity, so the loaf will not develop a dry skin and impede the rising. The reason for so many proofs is to create even yeast distribution and give the yeast a chance to develop that wonderful fresh bread flavor.

VII. Bake the Loaf: Take the loaf and the water out of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees. When the oven is hot, slide the loaf in and bake for 20 to 30 minutes.

That is bread making in seven easy steps.

Bread with Butter—Wow!

One last hint: don’t bake bread on a day in which you are pressed for time. Yeast will not be hurried, and it will not conform to your schedule.

Food for Thought:

The Bread that Makes You Immortal

When I wake up at 4:00 in the morning, which I often do, one of the first things I think of is bread. It’s something to look forward to:  a piece of cinnamon toast, some toast with apricot jelly, a tasty mini-sweet roll. Eggs are a mainstay, but it’s the bread that seems to provide zest and energy at First Light.

The problem is it doesn’t last. I have to keep replenishing my supply. There is a bread, however, that “sticks to you” (John 6:27a MSG).

Jesus says he is the true bread that comes down from heaven. In John 6:35 He declares, “I am the Bread of Life.” Then He begins a discourse on the life that lasts. He summarizes by declaring, “Anyone who sees the son and . . .aligns with Him will enter real life, eternal life” (John 6:40 MSG). The Bread Jesus gives, which is Himself, is the doorway to immortality.

Last year we were returning to Colorado from our vacation in Sarasota, Florida, and discovered our plane was delayed. So we decided to have lunch in an airport restaurant. The well-dressed young man who occupied the table nearest ours was congenial. In response to our questions, Matt described his job and interests, and somehow the conversation turned to spiritual matters.

“I don’t believe in God,” he said with pride. I don’t need a god.”

What do you think happens after death?” I asked.

“Nothing. We just die and that’s it. There’s nothing else.”

Doesn’t that bother you?”

Oh no, I’ll live my life the best I can, enjoy my job and family, and then life will be over. I’ll cease to exist. That’s fine with me.”

I was aghast, and as we left, my husband and I both felt sad for Matt and hoped and prayed he would come to believe.

Eternal life is possible. Heaven is real, and because I believe in Christ, because I’ve partaken of Him, I plan to go to Heaven. I know it’s real, not only because of recent books such as 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper and Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo, but because of scripture and my own experience.

Year before last, as my Mom lay dying, I wrestled with the fear that she wasn’t right with God. Then at her graveside service, as “How Great Thou Art” rang through the air, God’s presence overpowered the tent, and suddenly I knew Heaven was a fact and Mom was there.

The Bread of Life is more real than barley bread, spelt bread or wheat bread. To partake of it, to make our hearts Christ’s home means to receive eternal life and an abounding joy in a heaven packed with more delights than any of us can imagine.

We may need to consider Christ, and then we’ll have to wait for the moment we arrive in Heaven. And while we wait, Let’s enjoy the aroma and taste of Dale’s Honey Orange Bread. Try it, and you’ll know it’s a luxury.

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8 Responses to The Blessing of Bread

  1. Annette says:

    I couldn’t find the subscribe button, but I did check the box below to notify of new posts. This is much easier than remembering to go to your blog–the remembering is the hard part! Now, I can start enjoying your blog!

    • ruthann1 says:

      Dear Annette,
      I’m so glad you figure out how to subscribe. Actually it’s been quite confusing to me. But you’ve pursued it and found the answer. I’m so glad.
      RuthAnn

  2. Stephen says:

    Lay person’s question: What can be used if one doesn’t have a ‘zester’? :]

    • ruthann1 says:

      Dear Stephen,
      Dale wrote,”to answer Stephen’s question about how to remove the zest without a zester.

      “Remove the zest with an ordinary vegetable peeler, then mince it with your chef’s knife. Sometimes the peeler takes off more of the white pith than you want. So try to cut shallow peels. The white pith is bitter, but a little bit won’t hurt. A zester makes the work much easier and zester’s aren’t expensive. Do without lunch one day and go buy a zester.”
      Dale

  3. Stephen says:

    Looks like maybe there is no ‘subscribe’ button, but by clicking that box below (‘Notify me of new posts’), you are essentially subscribing.

    • ruthann1 says:

      Dear Stephen,
      I’m sorry for the confusion. Yes, the best way to subscribe is to click comment, then under the box for comments, click Notify me of new Posts.
      Mom

  4. Marjorie Engle says:

    I, too, could find no “subscribe button” so am hoping this does the trick. Otherwise, I have to agree with Annette that it is too difficult to remember to check for your very interesting blog(s)! 🙂

    • ruthann1 says:

      Dear Marjorie,
      I’m sorry about the confusion. The sure way to subscribe is to click on comment and under the comment box that comes up, click on “Notify me about new posts.”
      Yours,RuthAnn
      I’m happy you want to subscribe

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