Dear Meredyth,
Remember the other night when we spoke on the phone and you told me about your trials and errors baking bread? We talked about how bread can be so difficult, the slightest miscalculation of an ingredient, rising time, room temperature or mishandling the dough can ruin your work completely. I remember writing a blog post so long ago about my love/hate relationship with baking bread, my first efforts always end with me throw the dry, crumbling mess of dough out the window, but the second or third try ends perfectly so by then I forget how much stress and anger I felt earlier. In Botswana some sort of bread is baked at home a few times a week. Some days it’s a sandwich type of loaf, but also biscuits, rolls, “fat cakes” (fried dough), flat breads and dumplings are baked through the week. Bread baking is not for elite bakers, or wannabes like myself, every woman in the household bakes. Baking, like cooking, is an enjoyable exercise, never stressful or angering. Also, the Batswana never use a measuring cup, spoon, timer or a recipe, they just do it.
~3 cups wheat flour &~ 1 cup all purpose flour
1 packet of yeast
2 tsps salt
1/3 cup brown sugar (optional)
~1 cup warm water
~1/2 cup whole milk
~2 tbsps butter (soft!)
First combine all the dry ingredients, including the yeast into a large bowl, mix it well with your hands.
Make a pit in the middle of the dry ingredients, pour in the milk and start mixing it with your hands.
Cut in the butter.
Add the warm water 1/3 cup at time, folding the dough until more water is needed. You may have to add a little more warm water (or instead of water), you want the dough to be sticky but not too sticky.
Keep kneading the dough until it looks like what bread dough should look like.
Pinch off about a baseball size piece of dough with your hands and form balls. Feel free to roll the balls in oats, nuts or sprinkle some spices on top (butter the tops just a bit).
Bake on a greased or non stick sheet @ 350 until they’re golden on top.
Boom, bread balls.