As I began mixing the dough, I kept re reading the directions. It is not the normal recipe I use to use. Even if it was, I would now have to refer back to it because I just do not bake bread often anymore. I know it has been at least a year if not more. I was ready, and began putting in the ingredients with a smile on my face. I took time to pray and thank God for blessing me with an oven, ingredients, and time. For without either one of those, I would not be able to prepare this lovely loaf.
As I was 1/2 way done with this stage of dough I knew it was time to get my hands dirty. Literally. I would add in one cup of dough and stir well with my trusty wooden spoon. (Have I ever told you how I love my wooden spoons? Each one I have tells a story, of many meals labored over.) As I got the dough where it was not so sticky and I knew I would need to get it out of the bowl and onto the counter to begin kneading, a smile came upon my face. For I knew God was up to something. I could feel it. I anticipated it!
I added about a scoop of flour to the counter and began kneading, one turn at a time. I realized why I missed it so. It is just like how much I have missed being in the Lord with more of my day, then not. As I kneaded, more flour got pulled into the dough and it began getting sticky again. I needed to add more flour. Just like when we go to church, hear a wonderful sermon and it momentarily changes us. Until we get sticky again. Then we need MORE of Him to be kneaded into us. It doesn't happen on it's own. There is some effort to scoop out more flour onto the counter, and it takes effort to knead the dough in a way that it takes in the flour. And then guess what! If it wasn't enough the dough is going to get sticky again!! So we gently add a small amount, bit by bit (otherwise we just spread it around everywhere and make a mess) and begin kneading again. Soon, the dough begins feeling flexible, springy and soft. The kneading (the bending, changing of positions, and the moving around) has done it's job. It feels right. The dough has given into submission, just as we do to our Father God. Now, as the dough gets put into a nice clean bowl that has been glazed a bit with some nice oil (no cheap oil please) it must sit and rest, while the dough proofs.
As I saw that God was moving in his words, and was molding this little story I shared with you, I began praying fervently. I asked God to provide greatly with every bite of bread for our family. That with each bite, they could taste of His goodness, His faithfulness, His grace. I asked that as they partake on his bread of life, that they may be so greatly changed, that as they are changed others around them just naturally are drawn to Him.
Traditional White Bread
6 to 7 cups of flour
1 TBS salt
3 TBS sugar
2 TBS shortening
2 packages of active dry yeast (4 1/2 tsp)
2 1/4 cups warm water (120* to 180*)
2 TBS Olive oil
Mix 3 1/2 cup of the flour with remaining ingredients (except olive oil) in a large bowl with a mixer on low speed for one minute. Scrape down bowl and mix for 1 minute on medium speed. Scrape down bowl and and in remaining flour one cup at a time until dough is easy to handle. Then spread a scoop of flour (about 1/4 cup) on board (counter, work space,etc..). Begin kneading dough adding in more flour as long as dough remains sticky. Be careful not to add in too much dough or you will end up with a tough dough. Kneading process should take about 10 minutes or so, depending on humidity and the dough itself. Once dough is soft, and plyable then set it to rest. Wash out the bowl you were mixing in with warm sudsy water,rinse, dry, and add 2 TBS Olive oil into bowl. Add dough and turn to make sure dough is completely coated. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled. (about an hour) Punch dough down, and divide into two. Roll out dough and form into two loaves. Tuck under ends and pinch to seal. This will be the bottom of the loaves. Grease 2 loaf pans with shortening. Add one loaf of dough to each pan, and bake in a 425*oven for 25 to 30 minutes until loaves are golden browned and sound hollow. Brush with melted butter if wish.