I’m including the original recipe and my own altered recipe after baking this about a dozen times in the last 6 months. I also started making my recipes using weights so the second recipe will include measurements by weight. Let me know if you have any questions!
Grammy Bread (original recipe)
(Makes 3 loaves)
7 1/2 cups flour
2 tbsp active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups water
3/4 cups milk
4 1/2 tbsp sugar
3 tsp salt
4 1/2 tbsp butter
Put all wet ingredients into a pot and heat on medium heat. Melt and dissolve wet ingredients, then take off heat. Mix flour and yeast in a large bowl. Add liquid mixture to flour mixture. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until dough passes the windowpane test*, approx 8-10 minutes. Put in bowl to double in bulk. Punch down, separate into three loaf pans and rise again. Once doubled in size, bake at 375° for 25 minutes.
After baking this bread several times for several months, I have made some changes to the recipe. I added about 10% of each ingredient in order to make each loaf a little larger – I found the bread to be a little too small, and adding the extra ingredients makes the perfect loaf size. I started weighing my ingredients and rising the dough using my oven, and I also use milk powder instead of milk. I add this to the dry ingredients. I only do this because this way I don’t have to buy milk and worry that it’s going to go bad before I use it all. If you don’t use milk powder, replace the milk powder and water in the following recipe with these amounts:
7 oz milk
20 oz water
Add the milk to the wet ingredients if you do not use milk powder.
Here is the revised recipe and the instructions for how I make the bread every time now:
Note that all of these measurements are by weight, including the water. I’ve added the approximate volume measurements too.
Revised Grammy Bread Recipe
(makes 3 loaves)
2.5 oz butter (5 tbsp)
27.2 oz water (3 1/3 cups)
2.6 oz sugar (5 tbsp)
1oz salt (3 1/3 tsp)
46.5 oz all purpose flour (8.8 cups)
1.1 oz dry milk (3.3 tbsp)
1.1 oz active dry yeast (2.3 tbsp)
In a pot, melt and dissolve together the butter, water, salt, and sugar. If you are not using dry milk, add the milk here as well. Once melted and dissolved, take the pot off heat to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, mix your flour, yeast, and milk powder if you are using it. (These images were taken before I added the extra 10% more ingredients) I use a silicone bench scraper to help scrape my bowl as I am mixing, as well as to cut the dough into three pieces later.
Once the wet mixture is around 120°F (too much hotter can kill the yeast), add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture.
Mix ingredients together until a shaggy dough forms. Scrape the bowl as you go, and once all ingredients are together, turn out the dough onto a clean counter to knead. The dough will be sticky! It will stick to your fingers and the counter. As you begin working the dough and kneading, the dough will come together. Try to avoid adding extra flour unless you cannot knead it together.
Knead the dough 5-10 minutes. I knead my dough about 200 times, then check to make sure gluten has properly formed. The dough should be fairly smooth.
*The windowpane test is a way to check to see if your dough has formed gluten and is ready to rise. Take a small ball of dough and stretch it between your fingers. If you can stretch the dough thinly enough to see light through it without it tearing, the gluten has properly formed. If the dough tears when you stretch it thinly, it needs more kneading.
Once the dough is ready, I like to split the dough into three dough balls for the first rise. I weigh the large dough ball, divide it into three, and form into three balls. I put them back into the same bowl I used to mix the ingredients together. I cover this bowl with two tea towels and place it all into a warmed oven that has a pan of water in the bottom rack. Yeast will work its magic best in a humid, warm place, so I try to make this happen in my oven. I start warming the oven for a couple of minutes – then turn off the heat. Around 85°F is the sweet spot for proofing dough quickly. The large pan of water is to help keep the air humid and prevent the dough from drying out.
Once the dough has risen once, separate the balls and knead them for a few seconds – this helps to distribute the yeast again for the second rise. I shape the dough into a flatter rectangle and place it in the bottom of each bread pan, using the back of my hand to press it out over the bottom of the pan.
Place the three loaves back into the warm oven, cover them again, and let them rise again until they have doubled in size. Each rise takes me about 30 minutes – so 60 minutes of total proofing time. Depending on your conditions this could take longer. For example, the original recipe calls for an hour and a half proofing time for the first rise, and an hour for the second rise. If your conditions are conducive, you can lessen this time significantly, but you can still rise your dough on the counter if you don’t mind it taking longer. Just watch for it to double in size each time. The dough starts to rise over the top of the pans about an inch when I know it’s ready to bake.
Set your oven for 375° F and bake for 25 minutes. They should be golden brown, and slide out of the pans easily. Take them out of the pans immediately and cool them on a wire rack.