I am so excited to share with you my journey as I go through these fun old recipes. First, I want to show you the binder that I am so very excited about. You know the one, Mimi’s binder. It’s just one of many that she put together over the years. But it is very special to me. This one:
Ok, sure. It may not look like much from the outside. But these pages are filled with recipes from the past. Clipped and hand written with love and care.
I looked through and admired these recipes when Mimi gave me this binder on our last visit to see her, but I haven’t actually made any of the recipes until recently. Why not? I guess because I always get so swept away with all of the millions of recipes out there on the internet, I forget about the recipes I have at my house. I get obsessive sometimes in my search for recipes and with all of the food blogs that I follow on facebook alone, I’m kept busy making new things day after day. There is no way to keep up. I love finding recipes that are healthy, easy, delicious, new and exciting. I get overwhelmed by them all. (If you don’t believe me, check my Pinterest boards!) I love to find new recipes to make and have a few binders that are overflowing with printed recipes that I come across. (Yes, I have recipe binders of my own, but they’re not nearly as organized as my Mimi’s!)
So this binder was placed on my cookbook shelves along with my many other cookbooks that I have been neglecting. When I recently found myself going through it’s pages once again, I just couldn’t wait to get started.
I’m sure I will skip around here and there, but if you know me, you may know that I can be a little OCD with the way I do things. (Or CDO–alphabetical, as the joke goes) So, I’ll probably go through these mostly front to back, one recipe at at time. Unless something comes up where I need to make something specific. Does that mean that I will be making variations of corn pudding for months on end? Perhaps. But I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it. (By the way, what exactly is corn pudding??)
So the first recipe in the binder is for Swedish Yeast Bread. (Side note…I did make a couple of recipes from the middle before I decided to go on this recipe blogging adventure, and after some deliberation, I decided I’d skip talking about those for now and come back to them later. But just a heads up, when we get to the Heavenly Cake Brownies…its safe to get excited.)
But back to the making of Swedish Yeast Bread.
Looks great, right? I think it does. It’s one of my favorite kinds of recipes from the binder: handwritten. This was a recipe that looked good enough to Mimi for her to take the time to write it out in order to save it. Where did it come from? Who knows. That’s a mystery I will never solve. All I know is that at some point, it caught Mimi’s eye and she decided to save it.
So there it is. But there were two very significant problems with this recipe when I got ready to tackle it. There is no temperature listed for me to preheat the oven. No baking temperature at all. Plus, no baking time. What does it mean? Is this common knowledge somehow? I haven’t done enough bread baking to know if there is a “default” temperature or baking time for bread. (Does anyone know?) Am I missing something? Because it seems like baking times/temps would vary a lot depending on what you’re making.
I tried to flip the recipe over (many of Mimi’s recipes are glued in such a way that you can see the back for the rest of the recipe. But this is not one of those flip-able recipes. The other side of this recipe is glued solid to the paper. So what to do?
Well, I probably should have stopped right there and taken a second to look it up. But I thought…eh, I’ll guess. Maybe not the wisest move…but hindsight is 20/20, right?
The recipe itself (aside from the missing baking info) was easy to follow. Another reason I love this recipe is because it follows the classic Mimi structure with brackets for groups of ingredients. This is a smart way of writing the ingredients and what needs to be done with those ingredients without having to write them out twice (as appose to writing the ingredient list at the top, then listing them again with what to do… having to later say “combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. Then cream together brown sugar, butter, and eggs”) Much more efficient if you’re writing something out long hand. Plus it takes up less space.
BUT, this way is not always as clear up front about what you need. You have to read the entire recipe beforehand to make sure you have all the ingredients before you get started. Okay, so that’s a good rule of thumb anyway. You should always read through the whole recipe before you start cooking, right? Right? Of coooourse I always do that. (Ahem.) So then I never get caught mid-recipe and realize that I don’t have all the ingredients…because that would be ridiculous.
Anyway, back to the task at hand. First, yeast. I had to look up how much yeast is actually in a package of yeast because this is what I usually use.
That’s a big ol’ bag of yeast I keep in the freezer to portion out as needed. Works great (you can find a lb of yeast on Amazon and it will last you forever. It will last even longer if you barely use it.)
So, okay, yeast in warm water….check. And then buttermilk…except I don’t have buttermilk. But not a problem. Did you know you can make buttermilk yourself at home with just two easy ingredients?
1 Tbs of vinegar per cup of milk (minus a Tbs) So put in the Tbs of vinegar then fill the rest of the cup with milk. Warm and stir and you have buttermilk. Tada! There’s your nifty cooking tip of the day. It does come in handy.
So okay, buttermilk, check. Then you have something like this….mmmm. Delicious-looking, am I right? Be patient! It gets better, I promise.
I used my high-powered blender to make some wheat flour. I know. Stop right there and call me crazy. But I love it! I’m a from-scratch girl at heart. It just feels good to me to cook this way. Even though its NUTS sometimes. I don’t always cook from scratch and I don’t always make my own flour. But in this case, I was out. So, there you go.
So I did that a few times…one cup of wheat berries plus one minute in the blender = a little over a cup of flour.
And combine, combine, mix well…
then….hold on. Knead? for 5 to 8 minutes? By hand?
Luckily it wasn’t as bad as it sounded because I kneaded that dough right there in that big bowl, but I’m sure it was just barely 5 minutes when I gave up. But look! It’s beautiful! It looks like bread dough! This was definitely going to work.
I shaped it onto a bread loaf and I let it rise. And then it looked like this:
I thought I had this bread baking thing down no problem. All I had to do was bake it.
I preheated the oven to, I don’t remember, maybe 400? And I think I set the timer for 25 min.
Except when I checked on it around 15 min, it looked completely beautifully done. Crisp and crusty and perfectly baked. So I took it out and brushed it with butter.
It was gorgeous. No, really. Look at this bread!
And the house smelled soooo good.
I was feeling pretty pleased with myself about right now. Who needs baking instructions? There was no need to look up that magic “default” temp and time up after all! Why bother when you can just guess and have it work out?
Sloooowly that perfectly baked bread of mine began to sink. And so did my confidence about the thing.
The more it sat. The more deflated it got.
And then, when I did cut into it…
Yep. Sad, sad day. That thing was FLAT. But not only flat, it was RAW in the middle. Not a beautifully successful bread baking day after all.
But I’d put a lot of effort into this bread and I was determined to salvage some of it. I cut out the raw bits. Or, since the raw part was practically the majority, I cut the done parts off. The outers. It didn’t have an egg or anything in it, so I figured it couldn’t be that bad. Soon I had two piles. Sigh.
This is what I was left with in the end:
I would have tried this recipe again, no question. I would have looked up the best temperature to try. I would have done a better job of making sure it was really, really done. Except, the thing was, we didn’t think it tasted that great. I mean, it was okaaaaay, but I don’t think I particularly love the taste of molasses to be honest. I think that’s the problem.
I think we’ll call this recipe done.
A flop? Perhaps.
Okay, yes, it was a flop. But that’s okay with me. That’s not the point. Not every recipe has to be the best recipe ever. After all, Mimi may not have even made this one. All I know was that she’d saved it to try one day. Maybe she meant to and didn’t have a chance. (I’m pretty sure she had WAAAAY too many recipes to make them all. I kind of know what that’s like.) So if she didn’t ever get a chance to make it? Well, I got to make it for her. I got a chance to try it out. And, yeah, maybe this wasn’t the best bread recipe ever (although if I’d figured out the secret to baking time and temp, that probably would had a better result.)
But that’s okay. Its not the food, its not even the recipes. It’s the adventure.
I’m happy I got a chance to make this. In the end, I learned a few things, had a few laughs and tried something new. What more can you ask for?
By the way, though, the next recipe is also for bread and doesn’t have a baking temp or length of time to bake it either. So if any experienced bakers out there have any tips….it might make the next recipe venture just a little bit easier!
Till next time! Thanks for reading and happy baking 🙂