Prairie bread in the Kentucky hills

carolUp until I realized it was probably responsible for making me gain 10 pounds, I spent a batch of time each week baking bread. This experiment went on for nearly a year, with each Monday morning spent watching the KitchenAid spin while I slowly added flour to the yeast, water, sugar, salt and oil in the bowl. It was a pleasurable process, and I always felt like a real, live Suzy Homemaker when I turned the golden loaves on the baking racks I’d set up. I especially looked forward to the moment when I could offer a still-warm slice to my stepdaughter Gabrielle after I picked her up from school.

My interest in baking bread started with a Williams-Sonoma cookbook my husband bought before I moved to Kentucky. The pictures looked delicious, and I started working my way through the recipes. The results were mediocre though, with none of them tasting especially memorable no matter how many raisins, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, herbs and caraway I added. Certainly they tasted nothing like the bread I grew up with on the prairies, where flour comes from hard winter wheat that produces loaves with a tasty, soft crumb and a crunchy, equally tasty crust.

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