These are my favorite types of Amish experiences: authentic, unscripted and involving food:) A unique project in southeastern Minnesota is matching non-Amish bakers with Amish bakers in an authentic Amish kitchen (sheesh, I used Amish three times in the same sentence, probably not great to do). It's just fascinating: classes on bread baking that are actually held in an Amish home using recipes passed down from generation to generation. I know of nothing else like this and I'll try to get some more information and pictures soon. But for now, you can read more here.
The article doesn't say whether the Amish that are participating in these classes are Swartzentruber Amish, but I'm guessing they are because of two clues: the baking is being done in wood-fired ovens (but wood is not the exclusive domain of the Swartzenrtrubers) and the classes are in southeastern Minnesota where the Swartzentrubers have a large presence. Either way, these classes sound like an amazing opportunity.
And if you're not in southeast Minnesota? Then you can use the recipe below to make your own Amish-style white bread! The recipe is a classic, simple and easy.
A reader who tried the recipe below gave the following tip: place a cast iron pan on lower rack in oven and let heat. When you place the bread in the oven to cook, pour 1-2 cups of water into heated pan and leave in closed over for 5-10 minutes. The steam makes a fabulous crust on the bread.
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 2½ cups lukewarm water
- Lard (the size of an egg); you can substitute shortening here if needed
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- Enough bread flour to make a soft dough (usually about 5 cups)
- Grease pans and set aside.
- In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in a ½ cup warm water.
- In a large bowl, combine the lard, sugar, salt and the remaining 2 cups of water.
- Add the yeast mixture to the bowl and stir until combined.
- Add the flour, ½ cup at a time, mixing until the dough is elastic and doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl.
- Cover the bowl loosely with a damp cloth and let rise until double in size, about 1½ hours in a warm, draft-free place.
- Punch the dough down and place on lightly floured surface.
- Cut the the dough into 2 equal portions.
- Punch down a little more and form each into a loaf.
- Place the dough into greased loaf pans.
- Cover with a damp cloth and let rise again until the dough is level with the loaf pan, about 40-50 minutes.
- Pierce each loaf several times with a fork.
- While the dough is rising, preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Bake the bread for 40-45 minutes.
- The bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped on top.
- After removing the bread from the over, brush with butter for a softer crust.
- Remove the bread from the pans and place on cooling rack.
- The bread freezes well and will keep for up to 6 months.