Easiest Bread Recipe EVER

One of the reasons I got back to making bread after many years hiatus, is that donning that floury apron and baking bread makes me feel like I’m bonding with my grandmothers.  For all those 18th and 19th century grandmas, making bread wasn’t just some Martha Stewart exercise in being trendy and “artisan.”  If you wanted bread, you baked it! They were not making the easiest bread recipe, but I like to think that somebody discovered an easier way than their usual difficult job.

Easiest bread recipe

Easiest bread , sliced

Great-Great-Great Grandma Bakes Bread

If it was early in the 18th century, you went to the miller and bought a sack of flour, lugging it home in a wagon or on the back of a horse or mule.  And you stopped off at the brewers to pick up some of the yeast that was a by-product of his operation–because packaged yeast was somewhere in the dim future that you couldn’t even imagine. And the easiest bread recipe may not have been part of your repertoire.

You went home and mixed up the magic three ingredients–flour, water, and yeast –or you pulled your sourdough starter from the cool underground icehouse–and stirred up your batter in a big wooden bowl with a carved wooden spoon. (Perhaps you used a different grain, or added salt or even a bit of sugar.

Then you set the dough aside to rise, perhaps covered with a towel made of flour sack.  And you went about your other daily chores–collecting the eggs, milking the cow, sewing the clothes, cultivating your kitchen garden, perhaps “putting up” some fruits and vegetables (canning we call it now) for the winter. All in a day’s work.

Of course, the first thing that morning you had stoked the fireplace fire and from long practice, you knew which part of the hearth made the best place to bake your bread. You took time off from your other chores to give the dough a good workout–kneading, kneading, kneading, and set it aside to rise again (if you were not using the easiest bread recipe). When the dough had risen to perfection, you pulled off a hunk and shaped it into a loaf, and set it on the sweet spot on the hearth to bake.

And the next day–or perhaps two days later–you did it all over again.

The Easiest Bread Recipe

Easiest Bread Recipe

King Arthur’s easiest bread recipe–Peasant Bread out of casserole dish.

While I make plenty of bread that takes a lot of kneading and rising time, I recently found this recipe for peasant bread from King Arthur Flour, and it is the simplest and easiest bread recipe I have come across.  Those ancient grandmas would not have made this exact bread, because it calls for quick-rise yeast, which they definitely didn’t have. However, making a simple bread that bakes without extensive kneading and multiple risings would have been appealing, and might well reach back even to Europe before our ancestors came to North America.

Just mix the flour, water, salt, sugar and yeast.  Let it rise for 1 1/2 hours.  Deflate it a bit, put it in a oven-safe bowl and let it rest for about 15 minutes. Bake for 15 minutes–and you’ve got bread.  No kneading, no fuss no bother. Now isn’t that the easiest bread recipe ever?

(Follow the link to the King Arthur site for the recipe.)

A Bit of Bread History

The History Channel website gives us a fascinating look at the beginnings of bread. I learned that early Egyptians made the first commercial yeast–about 300 B.C. People got around to finely milling grains–thus enabling bakers to make softer breads instead of coarse “peasant breads” in 900 B.C. Another online history of bread tells us that bread was formed free-form on the bricks of the open oven until the 1800s. Finally pans were used. After the Civil War, we finally got commercially produced yeast and baking powder, which led to an easier way to make bread, if not the easiest bread recipe.

I love this Getty Museum article that tells you how to make bread the Medieval way–from growing your own wheat to building your own oven. Follow the link to see the entire process.

Medieval bread

Baking bread in Medieval times. Not much had changed by the time our first Puritan ancestors had harvested their first crop of wheat in the 1620s–or throughout the next two centuries.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Killbuck School Pictures Go Home

Through a Facebook group for people who live or have lived in the small town of Killbuck, Ohio, I learned that the Killbuck Museum is assembling an exhibit on Killbuck School and looking for artifacts and Killbuck School pictures.

I shared a few  Killbuck school pictures here in the past.  My direct family had a long association with the Killbuck School, beginning probably about 1888 and reaching to 1956, so in memory of our mother, Harriette Anderson (Kaser) and grandmother Vera May Stout (Anderson), our family is donating Killbuck school pictures to the Killbuck Museum.

The Oldest Killbuck School Pictures

My grandmother attended the old Township school in elementary school, and sat beside the teacher in this 1893 picture when she probably had reach 6th or 7th grade.

Killbuck School, Vera Anderson to left of teacher. 1893

Killbuck School, Vera Anderson to left of teacher. 1893

Her father, Doc Stout was one of the community leaders who fought to establish a high school. Before the town had a high school, education stopped at 8th grade unless the family could send the student to a private academy.  My great-aunt and uncle both went away from home to high school. My grandmother graduated in the first class of that new Killbuck School–the first high school–one boy and one girl comprised the entire class, although four people went on a class trip to New York City about 1898.

Vera Stout, 17

Vera Stout, 17, top right on class trip to New York City in 1898

My Mother in Killbuck School Pictures

My mother tagged along with her brother to attend first grade and although she was not old enough, the teachers gave up trying to make her go home.  She attended all twelve grades at Killbuck and graduated in 1923, at the age of 16. (She would turn 17 three months after graduation and head off to Columbus to attend Ohio State University.)  My mother and Uncle Bill Anderson show up in several Killbuck school pictures. Here they are the second and third from the right in the bottom row in this picture.

School Days 1916

Killbuck School, Harriette and Bill Anderson Jan 24 1916, Miss Helen Williams Teacher

In 1923, Harriette Anderson (my mother) graduated from Killbuck High School.

Harriette Anderson

Harriette Anderson 1923 Killbuck High graduation class, dark dress, lower left corner.

Mother, a baby-faced 21-year-old. returned to teach at Killbuck High school in 1927, after starting her teaching career in Clark, Ohio. Here she is 2nd from left in bottom row in the portrait of the Killbuck High graduating class of 1928. This photo is one of many of the Killbuck School pictures when she was a teacher.

Harriette Anderson, teacher

The very young-looking Senior class advisor (21) at Killbuck High School for the class of 1928, is seated second from left.

Mother taught off and on at Killbuck through the years, and in 1951 a new era started for our family connection to the school when we moved back to Killbuck and my brother and I (and later our sister) started attending Killbuck school.

I graduated in 1956.

Killbuck High School 1956

Killbuck H. S. Seniors, 1956. I am 2nd on left.

I am mailing these pictures (with the exception of the class trip picture and the digital image of a page from the 1956 yearbook) and several more school pictures to Killbuck so that more people can enjoy them.

You can see more of our collection of Killbuck School pictures (and Millersburg School) here.

*A note on donating pictures.  Most museums and libraries are not interested in unidentified photographs. Fortunately, most of the school pictures we inherited have lists of names on the back.  Be sure you check with the repository before sending heirlooms to them.  Some specialize or have specific rules about what they can accept.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Beyond Brats: Weisswurst, A German Sausage from Bavaria

One day I was browsing through the neighborhood butcher shop and noticed a list of German sausages taped to the meat case. It included weisswurst. The list piqued my curiosity.  I have been looking at German recipes as I research my German ancestors, (even when I go astray) and realized that I know very little about German sausages. I’ll begin with Weisswurst.

I certainly was unaware of the huge variety and the butcher’s list of a dozen or so kinds, prompted me to resolve to try out and write about them–link by link.

Of course we know brats. Bratwurst are the long skinny sausage that probably inspired what we think of as the all-American hot dog. Surprise, surprise–although the term bratwurst has become a blanket for grilled skinny sausages made of various meats, there are other names for some types of bratwurst.  So I will be returning to bratwurst.  But now–beyond brats.

WEISSWURST

weisswurst ingredients

Weisswurst label with ingredients

I have found memories of eating a white sausage when we visited Switzerland way back in the early 80’s.  It was my first experience with a white sausage, and I didn’t explore what it actually was made of, I just doused it with mustard, folded it in a piece of bread and enjoyed.

Turns out it is a traditional veal sausage from Bavaria and Austria.  That fits my research, since some of my ancestors come from Bavaria.

Weisswurst (the w’s are pronounced like v’s) gives you a pale, veal sausage (weiss=white)  that gets its color from what is omitted–namely nitrates.  That means although the sausages have been cooked, they will not hold up as long as sausages with preservatives, so buy only what you are going to eat.

Seasonings may include mace, ginger, lemon peel and pepper, but parsley is standard.

Preparation

Since weisswurst is already cooked, all you have to do is drop it in boiling water to warm it up.  This is not a grilling sausage.  It has a rather thick casing, so the way it is eaten is to peel off the covering before eating.

Weisswurst

Weisswurst boiled and peeled

EATING

Bavarians eat these weisswurst sausages as a mid-morning snack rather than for a meal. To be traditional, combine them with a puddle of sweet German mustard and some pretzels and beer. I’m not sure I’m German enough to be drinking beer in mid-morning! So, I had my weisswurst for dinner instead.

Weisswurst dinner

Dinner Weisswurst with mustard and green beans, bread and applesauce and noodles.

For my weisswurst dinner, I happened to have some wide noodles on hand, so I cooked those with a tomato sauce (not traditionally German, but not unheard of.  Applesauce on dark bread always goes well with a German meal, and fresh green beans fit anywhere.

If you decide to make your own sausage, there are several websites with recipes.  Let me know how it turns out.

My weisswurst sausages are purchased at the local family-owned Dickman’s Meat & Deli in Tucson.  Although they make their own sausage,  Dickman’s buys the German specialty sausages from an Illinois Company, Stiglmeier Sausage Company.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email