This is the sandwich bread that I try to make once a week when I have the time. I'm excited to share the recipe which comes by way of my mother's friend Linda who has been my life-long mentor for cooking and baking. When I was a child we would vacation together at Linda's family home on Peak's Island in ME and she would make several loaves of this bread toasted and slathered in jam or honey for breakfast. I was allowed to help out by punching down the risen dough and it was a favorite summer ritual. Even now when I smell bread baking in the oven it brings me back to those lazy summer days and that delicious white toast. The recipe is named for the grandmother of one of Linda's childhood friends who taught her how to make the bread on that same island in ME. My very favorite version is with all white flour but it's also delicious with half white half wheat which is how I made it here. I make two loaves and slice and freeze one for easy toast when the cupboards are bare. Once you start making home-made bread it's hard to settle for anything else!
Gram Baker's Bread: adapted from Linda who adapted it from Gram Baker
makes two loaves - make sure the water and milk isn't too hot or it will kill the yeast
1 1/2 c warm milk
1 1/2 c warm water
1 tbs yeast
3 tbs sugar
3 tsp salt
2 tbs softened butter
7-8 c flour (all purpose or half wheat/ half all purpose)
Spinkle the yeast over the warm water, mix in sugar and let stand 3-4 minutes.
Mix in the warm milk. Start mixing in flour by the cupfulls until it gets to a thick but stirrable batter.
Mix in the salt and the softened butter. At this point I like to use my standing mixer with the dough hook attachment simpy because it is less messy. You could continue mixing and kneading by hand with the same results (but stickier fingers).
Continue to add flour by the half cupfulls until it is a kneadable consistency. Turn onto a floured counter and knead until it's a smooth and silky dough (better to be too sticky than too stiff).
Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl and cover with a dish towel or plastic wrap.
Let rise 60-90 minutes until doubled in size. If you use plastic wrap you'll get this cool bubble dome effect!
Punch down the risen dough. Place on a floured counter and divide the dough into two pieces.
Flatten the dough and fold and press into two loaf pans.
Cover with dish towels and let rise 60 minutes. Uncover and brush tops with milk.
Bake for 40-45 minutes until they've slightly shrunken in from the sides of the tin and sound hollow when tapped. Turn out to cool on a baking rack.
Slice it and eat it warm, toast it throughout the week, or slice and freeze it wrapped in plastic wrap to toast at any time. So simple and insanely good.
And of course Little Smith loved having some bread for his afternoon snack.
Hopefully some day in the near future I can teach him to help me punch down the dough- these little traditions carry so much meaning and luckily are tastey too!