Paw Paw’s White Bread

This is my grandfather’s white bread recipe, which came to me from his WWII recipe book (page 11). The original recipe makes 13 loaves to feed 50 men. This version is cut down to make two human-sized loaves.

makes: 2 loaves
baking pans: 2 greased loaf pans
oven: 425°

This is my grandfather’s white bread recipe, which came to me from his WWII recipe book (page 11). The original recipe makes 13 loaves to feed 50 men. This version is cut down to make two human-sized loaves.

I’ve made this bread on countless occasions and am continually impressed by the moist coat and sweet taste. A slice of this bread rounds out any meal. It is good for sandwiches and makes excellent toast.

One really convenient aspect of this recipe is that it uses milk powder. I suppose that’s because powder is far more shelf-stable than milk—a plus when your at sea for months. It’s also much easier to work powdered milk and hot water than to heat milk on the stove.

Note that this version uses modern, quick yeast. If you’re using old-school yeast, you’ll need to use cooler water (~100°) and rising times will be roughly double.

ingredients

5-6 cups white flour
1/4 cup milk powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
4-1/2 teaspoons (2 pkg) quick yeast
1-3/4 cups hot water (120-130°)
3 tablespoons shortening

preparation

In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of flour and stir in the milk powder, sugar, salt, and yeast. Add the shortening and water and stir until well blended, about 100 strokes.

Stir in the rest of the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough becomes a rough, shaggy mass that cleans the sides of the bowl. If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle with flour.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand with a rhythmic push-turn-fold motion. If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle small additions of flour.

rising/shaping

Place the dough in a greased bowl, turn once so that the top is greased as well, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Leave at room temperature to rise (about 45 minutes).

When doubled in bulk, punch the dough down with fingertips, turn, and recover. Allow to rise again, this time about 30 minutes. Turn onto a floured surface and knead for a minute or so to press out the bubbles.

Put the dough on a floured surface and cut in half with a sharp knife. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Form each loaf by pressing the ball into a flat oval, 8-10 inches long. Fold the oval in half and pinch the seam shut. Tuck the ends under and place in a prepared loaf pan seam side down. Cover with a towel and allow to rise a third time until doubled in size (about 30 minutes).

baking/cooling

Bake the loaves at 425° until golden brown, about 45 minutes. To test if they’re done, remove one from the pan, turn upside down, and tap the bottom with a forefinger. A hard, hollow sound means that it is ready.

Remove the bread from the oven, and cool on a wire rack.