The battle of old timey bread baking

My brain decided I wanted to make bread. From scratch. So, I found a recipe on Pinterest that upon cursory glance (remember that) looked easy enough for even a bread baking virgin like myself to try.

So, I gathered up the needed items. Got the big container of flour down from on top of the fridge. Finally washed my loaf pan. Went out and bought yeast. Yeast. This was no longer the glimmer of an idea–by God, this was real life.

Stand mixer at the ready.

I told The Hubs this “wouldn’t take long” because “the bread only has to rise for an hour.” Fine.

Now let’s step back and take a look at who we’re talking about here. I’ve watched my mom bake. I’ve eaten bread. I’ve had loaves of bread stolen from my dry goods store by Confederate soldiers during the Siege and Capture of Harpers Ferry event. But my bread baking skills consist of two steps:

1. Open tube of bread dough
2. Place bread dough on cookie sheet.

I can, however, find my way around a recipe card. Dissolve yeast in warm water? Check. Add butter, sugar, salt, more warm water? Easy peasy.

Then came the flour.

I was halving the recipe, so with math skills in hand, I needed like four and a half cups. Fine. I gradually added them in–some how still managing to get covered with flour in the process–until I got to four cups. The dough looked…well it looked like dough. Kind of sticky. But dough.

Surely this means that’s enough flour.

So, I put the hook thing on my stand mixer and let it knead away.

Ten minutes later, it still looked the same. It was sticky. It was not a ball of dough–it was The Blob’s svelter cousin.

It was at this point I got a little concerned.

Shortly thereafter, I was covered in sticky, gummy dough. I wrangled it from the stand mixer bowl and flopped it into a greased bowl.

It looked like silly putty. Thin. Silly. Putty.

Concern grew.

Nonetheless, I covered it and sat back an hour to let it rise. In the meantime, I looked at the recipe to see what the next step was, assuming it would involve heating up the oven.

Wrong. It included words like “roll out the dough” and “let rise another hour.”

Mother of God.

So I texted my mother. Surely this is out of the ordinary.

“That’s pretty normal,” she responded. “It makes the bread lighter.”

Does everybody know this but me? Evidently, because she asked the two ladies she was shopping with and they confirmed, yes, this is a step that shouldn’t be skipped.

Well poop.

I was not convinced the dough would even rise. THIS was the monster I discovered an hour later:


Okay, I’ll roll with it.

I sprinkled flour on the table and on the rolling pin. I dipped my hands in flour. And I punched the dough. Which was actually really fun.

Then I had to roll it out. It glurped out on to the table. Glurped is really the only way I can describe the action the dough made. Then we looked at each other, the dough and I, and it occurred to me that it was still mighty sticky.

I cannot explain to you what happened next. It was like instinct kicked in and I just knew what to do. Flour, flour, roll, roll the other way, roll. My bowl of goo suddenly turned into this:


Which an hour later turned into:


Even as it baked, I was still not entirely convinced it was going to work. Yet, half an hour later, I pulled THIS out of the oven:


I almost wept. It was so beautiful. Bread. Real flipping bread. But I will tell you what, bread was time consuming. Two and a half hours. I’m fairly certain in years past, people made more than one loaf at a time. Which makes sense. Fun fact: after the arsenals in Harpers Ferry were blown up, the Union Army rebuilt one and used it for baking bread.


I basically need my own arsenal for bread baking. Or, if nothing else, another loaf pan.

But hey, old timey activity under my belt. I’ve baked bread from scratch. Now that somewhat horrifying, extremely touch and go experience can be translated into my novel! Writing what you know.

Just one more:


I mean, it’s sitting there mocking the box of baking mix.

And yes, it was delicious. And yes, I suddenly got a complex and promptly made an eclair cake as an encore. And now I’m blogging about it.

But I’m still not sure what the correct amount of flour was. Or the correct consistency.

Details, details.



  1. Congratulations on your first loaf of real homemade bread. I hope it won’t be the last.

    The correct amount of flour is whatever it takes to create a ball of dough that doesn’t quite stick to your fingers. And kneading it by hand rather than your mixer will allow you to judge that better. Bread recipes are never exact.

    1. It was actually a bet satisfying experience!! My goal is to one day make my grandpas salt rising bread. The recipe is intimidating: a starter that you make the night before, random use if potatoes. I’ll do it at some point…maybe something to tackle this fall!

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