If not now, when? Tomorrow? Next week? For months I had been wanting to invite my sister and niece over to bake pumpkin rolls. They had asked me weeks before Christmas to teach them and I was happy to oblige. Then days turned into weeks, which turned into months. The new year began and reality hit hard. Within a couple of months, I had attended a memorial service or visited a funeral home six times. A brother, two mentors, an aunt, a neighbor, and my daughter’s longtime boyfriend had all passed away within eight weeks. Their time and my time with them, had run out.
Make some memories you will never forget.
You see, time passes so quickly when we don’t slow down to enjoy it. It is measured by seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, etc. And it passes in its allotted….well, time. Realizing how precious time is and how precious people are, my sister and I selected a date. We rolled up our sleeves and we made pumpkin rolls. If you have ever made pumpkin rolls, you know they can be a little messy. So we made a little mess, but we also made memories. I sent them home with their pumpkin rolls and the only one who was disappointed was my husband because I didn’t save any for him. Because I am the Director of Happiness at Winn Sisters Farm, there were more pumpkin rolls baked the next day.
The lesson that I want to pass on to you is to share your time, but more importantly to share what you know. Most everyone knows that besides reading and writing, I LOVE TO BAKE. I also love to teach. Last summer at the middle school where I work, I taught my students how to bake bread. It was so much fun for me! They mixed, they kneaded, they waited, and then they partook of what I call heaven on earth, warm school-baked bread. They took their loaves home and shared them with their families. Hopefully, that lesson will stay with them for the rest of their lives. When one student came back to the school kitchen to check on his bread he exclaimed, “Ms. Carol, what happened to my bread?”. He had never seen risen dough and thought it was pretty amazing. I feel the same way each time I watch yeast doing its magic.
The recipe we used at school is one of my favorites. It makes a basic whole wheat bread that is light and satisfying. The recipe makes two medium size loaves of bread and a small batch of cinnamon rolls.
5 teaspoons of active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 cups of organic milk
3 tablespoons of honey
3 tablespoons of butter
3 cups of bread flour
3 cups of white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon salt
I dissolve 5 teaspoons of active dry yeast in 1 cup warm water (about 120 degrees) in my bread-baking bowl. My big, clay mixing bowl is perfect for my bread-making because it can be used for mixing and kneading the dough.
I scald 2 cups of organic milk and let it cool to lukewarm.
I then dissolve 3 tablespoons of honey and 3 tablespoons of butter in the milk. Yesterday I used coconut oil in place of the butter for a little diversion and it worked out very well. Either way works for me.
I then measure out 3 cups of bread flour and 3 cups of white whole wheat flour and mix them together in a separate bowl. I add 1 tablespoon salt into the flour mixture. You will need a couple more cups of flour, but I add it as I knead the dough.
After I see the yeast starting to do its magic, I add the milk mixture to the water/yeast mixture. Then it is time to slowly add the flour, 1 cup at a time and mixing as you go. This is where the extra two cups or so of flour will be used. After you have added the 6 cups of flour, add enough of the extra flour so that the mixture forms a nice workable dough, not too sticky.
Now, it is time to start the kneading. I knead my dough right in the bowl, but you can also use your pastry mat sprinkled lightly with flour. Place the dough on the mat, and using the heel of your hands, press the dough away from you and then fold it in half towards you and press again. Kneading will take about eight to ten minutes for your dough to become smooth and ready for it to rise. Place the dough in a bowl that has been lightly oiled on the bottom and sides. Cover with a pastry cloth. I use white linen cloths that are used specifically for my bread escapades.
Raising takes about an hour and then I punch the dough down. I divide the dough in two (for two large loaves) or three equal parts and place in buttered loaf pans and prepare into cinnamon rolls. The dough is then covered with the cloth again and the second rising begins. About an hour later they are placed in a 375 degree Fahrenheit pre-heated oven to bake for approximately 25 minutes. You may brush the tops of the loaves with butter before and after they bake, if you wish.
This bread takes about three hours from beginning to end. Isn’t there someone you would love to spend that time with? Just think of the coffee you could drink and the problems you could solve while you are waiting for that bread to rise, rise again, bake and possibly enjoy right out of the oven. Don’t you think, that now’s the time?