Amish Country White Bread

I remember my father driving, more than a little recklessly, down a country road. Fields of brown cornstalks shot past us, low green hedges, bright red barns that whizzed by in a blur. We four kids sat wide-eyed with the windows open, letting the country wind whip our hair, as my father gripped the wheel grinning. I imagined him as a kid just then, fresh from high school and taking his ’32 Ford for a ride on the country lanes. Except that he was driving the family station wagon, and his wife and kids were starving.  

Amish horse and buggy. Photo by Matthew Trump

There was a little bit of magic around the next bend. An Amish buggy, opened at the back, was tucked into a tangle of brambles and weeds. A sign by its wooden wheel read: Bread $1.

A tall man wearing black trousers with suspenders and a blousy white shirt greeted us solemnly as we scrambled out of the car. His long face was held up by a gray beard that smothered the space where his neck should be. He adjusted his straw hat as he looked at the sky. His horse stood by placidly, nuzzling a burlap bag.    

“Last two loaves,” the man said. “You can have them for a dollar fifty. Best bread around,” he added, and he didn’t say anything more. He reached into the dark recesses of the wooden wagon and held out two mushroom-topped loaves of bread for our inspection. Did I mention that my father loves a good deal?

All these years later, I don’t remember much about the man, his horse or his buggy, except that his world seemed so unlike my own. But I do remember his bread. Fresh and flavorful, with a hint of butter and a background of yeastiness. It was plain, honest bread just like the Amish who baked it. We tore it off in hunks and ate it dry, spilling crumbs recklessly on the back seat of that station wagon.

Now to get some of that bread you could take a drive out along the country roads that stretch from Lancaster east to Philadelphia – my father’s old stomping grounds – and hope to stumble upon an Amish family who has been baking bread that morning. Or you can bake this bread in the comfort of your own home, using honest ingredients and a little bit of patience. Either way, it’s good sometimes to be reminded: the simple things in life are often the best!

Amish Country White Bread

Makes two 22-ounce loaves

1 ¼ cups of milk, scalded and cooled

3 Tablespoons of butter

¾ cup of water at 105°

2 ¼ teaspoons of active dry yeast

3 Tablespoons of sugar

1 teaspoon of salt

4 ½ cups of unbleached bread flour (See note)

+ ½ cup of flour for benchwork and 1 Tablespoon of butter for the bread molds

A note on flour types: To achieve a high rise with a strong crumb, this bread is best baked with flour that has at least 11% protein content. Bob’s Red Mill, King Arthur’s, Pendleton Morbread or any flour that’s labeled ‘best for bread’ are all great here. If you’re not sure, check the nutritional content; any unbleached white flour that has 4 grams of protein per quarter cup will do.

Scald the milk: In a 1 quart saucepan heat 1¼ cups of milk over medium heat for 4 minutes. Once the milk is hot and steaming, remove it from the heat and add 3 Tablespoons of butter cut into three or four pieces. For best results, do not let the milk boil.

Make the dough: In a large bread bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together 2 ¼ teaspoons of active dry yeast (1 packet) and ¾ cups water at 105°. Whisk until frothy and let sit for a few minutes while the milk and butter mixture cools.  

Dough ready for final shaping

Add 2 cups of the flour, the sugar, salt and cooled milk mixture to the bowl and beat until smooth. With a stand mixer, this will take 2 minutes with the flat beater. By hand, it will mean 200 strokes with the handle of a wooden spoon.

Now gradually add 2½ cups more of flour, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until the dough is a smooth mass. If using a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on low speed for 2 minutes once the dough has formed a ball.

Kneading and first rise: Turn the dough ball out onto a lightly floured counter and knead vigorously for 5 minutes. Return the dough to the bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours, until doubled in bulk.

Second rise: Punch down the dough, pull the edges over as best you can to form a ball and let rise a second time for an hour.

Shape the loaves: Butter two loaf pans on the sides and bottoms. Turn the partly risen dough out onto the counter again, and lightly push the air out of the dough. Divide into two pieces. Roll each piece into the approximate shape of a loaf and let sit for 10 minutes. Now roll each piece lengthwise, again into the shape of a loaf, carefully stretching the dough. This will give the bread its high-rising structure.  

Spray the loaves with a light mist of water and let them rise for 50 minutes to an hour in a warm place until their heads are popping out of the loaf pans.

Bake the loaves: Preheat oven to 400°. Bake loaves for 10 minutes, and then lower the oven temperature to 350°.  Bake for a further 40 minutes until brown. Put a small piece of tin foil on top of each loaf if the top gets too dark.

Let cool on racks for 30 minutes before digging in. Enjoy!

A Pennsylvania Dutch hex sign here at Chez Bullhog

18 comments to Amish Country White Bread

  • Your description was so clear I could smell the bread. Great post, thanks.

  • I love baking bread and have even had dinner in a Amish Family’s home with them (a real honor). Your bread looks delicious. I haven’t made white bread in a while, but you just put me in the mood. Thanks!

  • Jeannie H

    What size pan is a bread pan? Guess I’m just a beginning baker… Looks too good to be forgotten…

  • I use 1.5 quart glass bread pans by Pyrex. They measure 8.5 x 4.5 x 2.5 inches.
    This is a great recipe for new bakers. Make sure you bake the bread for the full 50 minutes to allow the structure to develop. To keep the high peak on the bread, you might need to cool the loaves on their sides after baking.
    Cheers,
    Sortachef

  • Oh, Don! You always leave me wanting to grab the yeast and flour! I’m due to make a batch of bread for SB -the husband in residence. You always have the best bread recipes and hints … which brings me to anbother matter, I’ve nominated you for doing a post called Foodbloggers Unplugged …an interview about you and the blog …

    see the link for details … http://thespicegarden.blogspot.com/2011/12/food-bloggers-unplugged-persona-behind.html

    In the meantime, I’m copying the recipe and checking th pantry to see if I have everything for Tuesday bread day … thanks!

  • I am a bread baker and must say your bread looks wonderful. I am new to your blog and have spent some time catching up. I’ve been browsing through your earlier posts and really like what I’ve found here. You’ve created a wonderful place for your readers to visit and I really enjoyed the time I spent here. I’ll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  • nicki

    This looks soooo good. That is what I remember bread looking like. I can almost smell it!!!

  • I am looking for a great sandwich bread – haven’t found one yet. I’ll add it to my list to try cause it looks amazing!

  • Nadoia

    very good receipe ,thank u

  • This bread is beautiful, fluffy and looks DELICIOUS! You can bet a loaf I’ll be trying this. Maybe even today…

  • Rhena Melancon

    I baked a couple of Amish Breads 2 days ago and they are both gone. This is the best bread recipe I have ever tried. I has now become #1 with me., Thanks for sharing it, Rhena

  • Julie

    I am going to try your bread recipe, looks delicious. Would you also have an all wheat amish bread recipe? I am trying to make organic whole grain bread. Thanks

  • Nick

    How would you adjust this recipe for high altitude baking? I would love to try this recipe. Thanks!!

  • vera

    Great recipe! I had no problems and the loaves came out wonderfully fluffy. This was my first time scalding milk for making bread. I read online that it helps break down the milk better and gives the bread a nice rise. My bread came out just as pictured. Thank you!

  • joseph zarick

    i have been baking 30 years. followed recipe exactly, but my loaves did not rise in the two pans past the top.??

  • There are so many variables in baking that affect the rise that I’d need more info to assess the problem. Air temperature and humidity, the type of flour you used, and the temperature of the milk mixture when added to the mix (should be cooled to 100 degrees)are just a few that spring to mind. Also, you should be proofing this dough at between 75 and 80 degrees for the times to be accurate.
    Thanks for your comment. Hope this was helpful!

  • [...] adapted from Wood Fired Kitchen’s Amish Country White Bread Country White Bread   Save Print Prep time 4 hours Cook time 50 mins Total [...]

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At Woodfiredkitchen.com, Sortachef takes you on adventures in the kitchen and beyond, with tales to suit. Many of his offerings are woodfired - a flaming good recipe for pizza, bread, or something different. All recipes are original and tasty. Enjoy!
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