People who know me well know of my obsession with old things. Our home (which is quite old itself, built back in 1904) is filled with little pieces that date from the twenties to the eighties. I have an obvious taste for sweet vintage childlike items and who would have guessed it, kitchen antiquities. More than any other room in our household, our kitchen contains the highest amount of the small things I have collected from constant trips to thrift stores and estate sales (I generally refuse to pay more than $10 for one item, though most are closer to the $1 range). Favorite things to collect include old cake tins, ceramic bakeware, aprons, and of course, cookbooks. My ever-growing vintage cookbook collection is a very special thing to me. I completely adore ones with cursive handwritten notes written in the margins, cut-out recipes tucked inside the pages, and typed family recipes bound in rings. I cannot help but fondly think of grandmothers and housewives back in the forties and fifties baking these beautiful home-cooked creations, back in the time when baking and cooking full meals was a part of normal daily life. There is just something sweet about it.
At an estate sale down the street a couple weeks ago, I purchased a tiny stack of cookbooks for a mere 25 cents each. I was happy to find a bread cookbook by Better Homes and Gardens that had been stuffed with personal bread recipes from the owner. I came across a Betty Crocker one that seemed to be torn from a pamphlet, a recipe for a Country Crust Bread that seemed rather simple. I put it all together yesterday afternoon, threw it in my Kitchenaid mixer, folded it, and had a lovely loaf to go with a creamy vegetable soup for dinner. I admit, my folding skills weren't amazing so the loaves weren't very beautiful, but baby, it was tasty.
Country Crust Bread
2 packages active dry yeast
2 cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup oil
6 to 6 1/2 cups bread flour
soft butter or margarine
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in sugar, salt, eggs, oil, and 3 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Mix in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle. Turn dough onto lightly floured board; knead until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl; turn greased side up. (At this point, dough can be refrigerated for 3 to 4 days.) Cover; let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour (Dough is ready if impression remains.)
Punch down dough; divide in half. Roll each half into a rectangle, 18x9 inches. Roll up, beginning at short side. With side of hand, press each end to seal. Fold ends under loaf. Place seam side down in greased loaf pan. Brush loaves with a little oil. Let rise until doubled, about another hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place loaves on lower oven rack so that the tops of the pans are in the center of the oven. Pans should not touch each other or sides of oven. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until deep golden brown and loaves sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pans. Brush loaves with butter; cool on wire rack.
Makes two loaves.