Last week I mentioned my mom in one of my posts. My mother-in-law was very important in my life, but especially because of her wonderful cooking. She loved to cook. Loved to share her recipes (well kinda–more about that later). Loved to give cooking tips. She cooked with gusto and we knew that (Oy! The work this was!) When she passed away her boys put together “Oma’s Cookbook” where her recipes for spaetzle, Greek beef stew, stollen, butterhorns and Christmas cookies are all written down for posterity.
One problem. We think this might have been intentional, oh, no it couldn’t have been. Could it?
No one had any recipe exactly like any other person. “What? Your stollen recipe has __________?” Everyone was dictated, written verbally shared just a little bit different. Perhaps so she could reign queen of the kitchen. Not to worry Oma, you do. No one has ever measured up to you!
One of the things she made that her children and especially her grandchildren (Jacob in particular) was homemade bread. They called in Oma bread. What a treat to be offered a lovely slice of toasted Oma bread with some delicious homemade jam. Jacob was over the other day. He told me that my bread was almost as good as Oma’s. High praise indeed. So let me share.
Oma Bread (my version)
I always make a sponge. A sponge is my premix where the yeast is allowed to bloom.
1 cup water (90 – 100 degrees)
1/2 tsp yeast
1-1/2 cup bread flour
Mix, cover and let set in a warm place for 2- 16 hours
1 cup water (100-115 degrees)
3/4 tsp. yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar
1-1/2 tsp. salt
3-1/4 cup bread flour
Mix the bread ingredients in a large bowl (I use my Kitchen Aid mixer with the dough hook) with the sponge until “just mixed.” Let this set for 12 minutes (right there in the mixer stand).
Turn the mixer on medium low and kneed for 9-12 minutes.
Place in a lightly oiled clean bowl to rise. Cover with plastic wrap (I spray mine with cooking spray so it doesn’t stick). Let rise in a warm place until about doubled. (1 – 1-1/2 hours depending on luck) DON”T set on a granite or marble or any solid surface because they tend to be cold and it will inhibit the rise. You can place the bowl on a wooden breadboard on the surface though.)
When it has doubled, punch down, gently form a circle loaf. I place mine on a cooking stone lightly sprinkled with corn meal. You can also use two cookie sheets stacked together. Cover with a cloth and let it rise for about 90 minutes.
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. When ready to bake, take a serrated knife and make a couple of slash marks into the top of the bread. Place in oven and reduce the temperature to 425. Bake for about 25-30 minutes. or until golden brown. Bread will sound hollow when you tap on it.
It yields 1 large loaf. I also call it my “Walk Away Bread” because I don’t have to stand there and watch it as I do each step. Set the timer and walk away.