My cousin, Carol, has been an incredible help during our move to the Southwest. Being family, she wouldn’t accept anything for her help with cleaning our new home before we arrived, disposing of boxes, letting us stay overnight in those first few chaotic days, and just overall constant moral support. I needed someone in my life who said several times a week, “You’re doing a really good job.” So it seemed natural yet somehow inadequate to give her a loaf of my homemade Country Crust Bread as soon as I found my loaf pans, Kitchen Aid mixer, and recipe file box.
“What do you do with your homemade bread?”
She was delighted and curious about my bread baking. “Do you make bread often?”
“Why—” I deliberated. Less than I wanted, more than other people do to bake bread. “–yes. Yes I do.”
She fine-tuned her question. “Like, is that your only source of bread? Do you ever buy store-bought bread?”
Now the truth came forth. The plastic wrapped loaf in my refrigerator told the story. “Uh, no. Not that much.” I felt warmth in my cheeks. “Most of the time I give it away.”
The perfect giveaway
I love giving away loaves of bread. I love it just about as much as I love making bread. It makes me happy. It makes others happy. And it opens the door to happy talk. I love happy talk. Win-win-win.
Bread with a hint of warmth from the oven is the perfect gift, I’ve found. It’s fun and therapeutic to make, relatively inexpensive, doesn’t take as much prep time as people might think, and your recipients love it. I can guarantee you this, you won’t have to include a gift receipt; there won’t be any exchanges.
This recipe for Country Crust Bread is a great standard and a good recipe for beginning bakers. In a pinch, I’ve used the same basic recipe to shape into Cinnamon Swirl bread, dinner rolls, or cinnamon rolls. Two eggs give it extra protein, and no milk makes it a good option for those with dairy allergies.
Try it, you’ll love it. Watch out. It’s so good, you’ll want to share it.
Country Crust Bread
- 2 pkgs. (or 2 scant Tbsp) yeast
- 2 c. warm water (105-115 degrees)
- ½ c. sugar
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 2 eggs, beaten
- ¼ c. oil
- 6-6 ½ c. flour
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in sugar, salt, eggs, oil, and half of the flour. Beat till smooth. Mix in enough flour to make dough easy to handle but still slightly sticky. Knead until smooth. You have kneaded in enough flour if you can rest your hand on the top and then pull it off without dough clinging to your hand.
Place in large, lightly greased bowl, turn to grease the top, and cover bowl with a kitchen towel. Let rise till double in bulk. Shape into two or four loaves and place in either 2 greased 9×5” loaf pans or 4 smaller loaf pans (I use 7 ¾ x 3 ¾). Let rise till almost double. Preheat your oven.
Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from pans. Place on cooling rack. Lightly grease tops with butter and lightly cover with a towel for about ten minutes so the crust does not dry out.