Grandma’s Bread Recipe

May 14, 2011 by     13 Comments    Posted under: Bread Recipes, Recipes

 

Grandma's Bread

Grandma's Bread

Prep time: 3 hours

Cook time: 30 minutes

Enjoyment time: Lifetime

Before giant supermarkets and ready-made foods, families grew their own vegetables, slaughtered their own meat, and made their own bread.  Food was real; it was pure; and there is no doubt in my mind that it tasted better.  It is from this era that I share a recipe that is dear to my heart.

As a kid, I remember going to grandma’s house, where her and grandpa followed these pure-food traditions on their little farm.  There I would eat fresh baked bread, often with store-bought bologna and Best Foods Sandwich Spread.  My cousins and I would normally eat this tasty treat out on the back porch, throwing the crusts to the chickens (whose eggs we would be gathering later), and then discussing how awesome grandma’s bread was compared to the store-bought bread we had at home.

These memories have stayed with me throughout the years, and I’ve often wished that I knew how to make grandma Lamoreaux’s bread.  But then a few months ago, as I was visiting with my aunt, I discovered that her sister had sat down with grandma years ago to write down the measurements and process of her unique bread recipe.  Grandma only ever measured things with her hands, eyes, and bowls, so this was a bit of an undertaking.  But she had grandma make it a few times to get the recipe written down just right.  I was so excited to hear that this wonderful recipe had survived my grandmother’s death.  It is my favorite bread.  Each time I eat it I am taken back to that humble little farm with grandpa playing solitaire in the breakfast nook, grandma yelling that too many cookies had been eaten out of the cookie jar, and those delicious bologna sandwiches being shared with my cousins.

Bread Sponge Starter

A critical step in grandma’s recipe is the Sponge.  A Sponge is a mixture of flour, sugar, water, and yeast that is set in a warm place for at least an hour to activate the yeast and get things going.  You will find it being called for in a large percentage of old traditional bread recipes. I’m sure it originated out of the need to verify that the yeast was active and good, but it doubly served to add flavor to the finished bread.  It really does make a difference, so do not skip this step.

Sponge:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons yeast
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups lukewarm water

 

Place ingredients in a large bowl, mix together, cover bowl with a damp cloth, and set in a warm place for an hour.  If your oven has a bread proof setting, use it, as it is at the optimal 100˚ temperature for the yeast activation.  After an hour, the sponge should be easily doubled in size and very bubbly.  It will look alive and have a smell that is intoxicating.

Bread Sponge
Bread Sponge

Making Bread Dough

Dough:

  • 2 cups of lukewarm water
  • 7 cups of flour
  • 1 ½ tablespoons salt

Pour the water into the sponge, “washing” the sides of the bowl with it.  Add the flour and salt, and mix together.

Dough Ingredients
Dough Ingredients

Kneading Bread Dough

Then begin kneading the dough, either in the bowl or by turning it out onto a floured surface.  Kneading works the gluten in the flour and is critical to good bread.  Knead by pushing the dough forward with the palm of your hand, then folding the dough in onto itself to repeat the process, each time turning the dough a little so that you knead the entire ball.  Whether you choose to knead in the bowl or out on a surface, you will need roughly an additional 1 cup of flour.  How much of the flour you use will be based on factors such as how much moisture is in the air.  The dough will likely be very sticky when you first start kneading it, so you will have to add little bits of the flour as you knead to get to the right texture.  You’re going for slightly tacky, but not sticky.

Kneading Dough
Kneading Dough

When you first start kneading the dough, you will feel that it is very resistant and hard to knead.  But about 7-10 minutes in, you will feel it begin to soften greatly.  At a certain point, you will feel it “break” under your pressure, meaning it suddenly becomes very soft and malleable.  I like to knead mine for a couple minutes after this point, as the kneading greatly affects the end texture of the bread.  To test if the gluten is ready, pull a pinch of dough up slowly with your fingers.  It should be elastic and almost stringy and pull away for about 2 inches before it breaks free.

Elastic Dough
Elastic Dough

Let Dough Rise: 1st Rise

Flip the dough over in the bowl so that the smooth side of the ball is facing up, and then remove it from the bowl.  Oil the bowl with butter, vegetable oil, or olive oil, then put the dough back in it, smooth side up. I like to rub some of the oil over the dough as well, but this is not necessary.

Dough in Oiled Bowl
Dough in Oiled Bowl

Cover with the damp dish towel and place back in a warm place.  Let rise until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.

Oil 3 loaf pans and set aside.  Punch the dough down, literally by punching it softly with your hand (this deflates the dough so you can more easily judge the divisions), divide into 3 equal sizes, and roll into balls.

Divided Dough
Divided Dough

Making Bread Loaves

Take one ball of dough and start forming it into a rectangle by pushing the dough out with your hands.

Press Dough with Hands
Press Dough with Hands

Fold the dough over itself, tucking in the edges, to make a perfectly sized rectangle to fit your bread pan.

Fold Dough
Fold Dough

Squeeze the dough so that the edges fold under themselves to make a more even rectangle, paying particular attention to the ends.

Squeeze Dough
Squeeze Dough

If the ends seem to be much too uneven with the rest of the rectangle, fold the entire piece in half, joining the two ends, and start forming into a rectangle again by repeating the previous steps so that your finished result looks like this.

Dough Rectangle
Dough Rectangle

Place the dough into the bread pan and pat down with your hand to evenly fill the pan.

Place dough in pans
Place dough in pans
Form dough into pan
Form dough into pan

 

Let Dough Rise: 2nd Rise

Repeat with the other two balls of dough, cover the pans with a damp cloth, and return to a warm place to let rise for another hour.  The dough should rise to the top of the pan or higher.  You can brush melted butter or olive oil on the top of the loaves if you would like.  This adds a darker color to the tops, but is not necessary at all.  Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.

Risen Dough ready to bake
Risen Dough ready to bake

Baking Bread

Heat oven to 350˚ and carefully place pans into the oven.  If you are not gentle, you run the risk of deflating the dough and having a flat loaf of bread.  Bake for 30 minutes, and then empty out the loaves onto cooling racks.  If you’re anything like me, you will eat an entire loaf while it’s still warm with some butter and homemade jam.  The rest will keep in bread bags for up to a week, though it is at its best within the first 3 days.

If you find yourself not being able to eat all the bread before it loses its greatness, it makes the best croutons you’ve ever had!  See crouton recipe for details.

Grandma's Bread is delicious!
Grandma’s Bread is delicious!

 

 

13 Comments + Add Comment

  • I would love to see the ability to add this recipe to Pinterest. That’s where I add all of my recipes. Looks delicious and cannot wait to try this.

    • It is a very tasty bread. I hope you make it and enjoy. There are pin buttons on each of the pictures on our site, but not on the print recipe section. Pin away Melinda, pin away :)

  • I asked my greatgrandma for her bread recipe 40 years ago
    And she said she didn’t know the measurements! She just showed
    me “about this much flour in her bread making bowl etc”, lol!
    Thank you for posting your grandmas bread recipe!
    I’m in a nostalgic mood today and grateful I found this!

    • Ha! That’s awesome Rosann. Sounds like our grandmas did things the same way. I’m not sure if their finished breads were close or not, but how fun to think back on the times with them. This recipe and a handmade quilt is all I have remaining of my grandmas. I hope you like her bread as much as I do, and that its a close proximity to your grandmother’s. Thanks for commenting.

  • Hi! This bread looks awesome. But I’m totally new to making bread (aside from the no-knead kind) so I have a few questions:
    - Would you say that this bread is more on the dense side, like sourdough, or lighter, like French bread? Or somewhere in between?
    - What size loaf pan do you use?
    - It is highly unlikely that I will be able to use up 3 loaves of bread in a short period of time. Do you think I could either freeze the baked and cooled bread, or freeze the dough beforehand?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Jenn. Thanks for your comment. I love this bread, and I think you will too. To answer your questions, I would say that this bread is very dense, maybe more dense than a sourdough. But it is airy at the same time if that makes any sense. It’s perfect for toasting, and just awesome with butter and jam. As for my loaf pans, I’m fortunate enough to have some commercial size 12×5 loaf pans. You might be able to find some of that size at restaurant/baker’s supply stores, but I’ve never seen them at residential stores (Williams Sonoma, Target, etc.). That’s not to say that standard “residential” size pans won’t work just fine. I recommend just finding the biggest size you can, and go with those. The bread making and baking process is exactly the same, you might just have to split the dough into 4 loaves instead of 3. And as for all that dough, you can always just split the recipe in half if you’d like, that way you won’t have so much to make. But yes, you could just freeze the extra dough to use another day. Just seal it up real good and use it within a month.

      Welcome to bread making! I think you will find that it is kind of cool, gives you a sense of accomplishment, and is very rewarding (from a taste perspective). It is really easy to do, it just takes some time is all. And if all the kneading worries you a bit (though it really is not bad), I’ve made this recipe several times now by throwing everything into my KitchenAid mixer to knead. Works great and saves a little sweat. Let me know how your bread turns out or if you have any other questions.

  • going to try this tomorrow! been looking for a good bread recipe with great instructions. this is the best so far! thank you! love your site!
    do you think it will work with whole wheat flour?

    • Thank you for the comment, Candice. I love this bread and hope you do too. I remember grandma making it with whole wheat flour sometimes. She would use up to half whole wheat and the rest white. Any more than that and it will not hold together very well and be far too dense due to the low fat content in the recipe.

  • Jothan – Try baking your bread for 40 to 45 minutes. Grandma actually baked hers for an hour. Great website!

  • Now Those are Seasoned Pans!!!

    • Yes they are! They actually came out of my grandfathers bakery of 30+ years. They were given to my dad, who then used them in his bakery for several years and later brought them home for my mom to use. All the bread she made while I was growing up was made in those pans. I was extremely excited when she gave them to me about a year ago. You just can’t buy pans like these anywhere!

  • That bread makes the BEST grilled sandwiches we have ever had! Amazing there was any left for sandwiches after we stuffed ourselves with fresh out of the oven slices, mmmmmmmm. So full :)

  • The step by step directions are great. I am so glad you immortilized grandma’s bread recipe.

I love hearing from my readers, so please go ahead and leave a comment!


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The Bald Gourmet Mug

I'm Jothan Yeager and I am The Bald Gourmet. After years of experimenting in my kitchen, creating delicious food and eating at amazing places around the world, I wanted a place to share my experiences with everyone. Thus the Bald Gourmet was born. I hope to open the doors of great food and great cooking to you, to inspire you to reach beyond prepared boxed meals, and to teach you of a world of deliciousness that has brought joy to me and those around me. Please enjoy the adventure which is The Bald Gourmet and share it with those you love.