Traditional Vintage White Bread Recipe (Easy, No-Knead, Fast-Rising Traditional Sandwich Bread)
I was reading about the history of bread the other day, and I came across a an easy no-knead bread recipe that was originally published in France during the 1600's! Isn't that cool? It's the original French bread!
This same recipe was republished again in the 1700's in England, then again in America during pioneer times. It showed up once again in the 1970's in the Joy of Cooking cookbook (definitely a classic).
Anyhow, since I was out of bread, I impulsively decided to try it making this historic, traditional bread. I had all the ingredients on hand, and it looked easy enough for me, so off I went to bake it.
Here's what you can expect:
1) It's WAY easier than I thought it was going to be! Being a rather newbie bread baker (still), I go for EASY you guys. This recipe is simple and something I could handle!
2) It turns out GREAT!
This bread is a soft, light yellow white bread that is the ancestor of our American white bread. Unfortunately, our modern bread is so filled with chemicals and flours that are completely depleted of nutrition, it really can't be compared with this delicious traditional loaf.
It's a dense, caky bread, easy to cut with a bread knife, that makes it perfect for making toasts, sandwiches, and using for French toast. I would love to try it in bread soup or bread pudding too, and someday I will!
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How to Make Vintage French (White) Bread
You're going to love this bread, my friends! Let's get started with the recipe & directions!
Ingredients for Traditional White Bread
1) 4 cups flour
**The recipe called for unbleached white flour, but I just used what I had available--which is a combination of flours. It still turned out an incredible loaf!
2) 3 eggs
3) 1 cup milk, room temperature is best
**I used goat milk because that's all I had available. It was just fine!
4) 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
5) 2 1/4 tsp yeast
6) 1 1/2 tsp salt (optional)
7) 2 Tbsp sugar (optional)
**Guess what? According to the author of this bread history (source below), salt and sugar are American additions. Go figure, right?
Directions for Making Traditional Vintage French Bread in Your Own Kitchen!
Step 1) Mix up the flour and the salt (if using) and set aside.
Step 2) Mix up the eggs and sugar (if using) into another bowl and set aside.
Step 3) Measure out your milk and butter and warm gently over low heat until the temperature is around 115* F. If the butter is not all the way melted, just continue to stir until it is, but don't the let temperature get much higher than 120* because it will kill the yeast. This is why it's a good idea to use room temperature dairy here.
Step 4) Add the milk/butter mixture to the eggs/sugar mixture. Add your yeast to this combination and mix well.
Step 5) Now you're going to make a "pre-ferment" or a "sponge" to help your bread achieve a perfect rise and density. Just take a cup of the flour/salt mixture to the egg/milk/butter/yeast mixture above. Stir well. If you have lumps (I did), just keep stirring until they're about gone.
Step 6) Dust the top of this "sponge" mixture with flour. Cover it and set it aside in a warm place to become active. You'll know it's active when the mixture has bubbles on top and the dusted flour has cracked and been disturbed. This didn't take long for my mixture, I'd estimate around 15-20 minutes.
Step 7) Now combine the active sponge to the remainder of your flour.
Use a wooden spoon or a fork to stir it until it becomes a mass. At some point, you'll have to use your hands. Create a nice blobby ball. You don't need to knead it, so just get it into a blob. Cover this ball and set aside in a warm place to double in size.
This rising took only about 20 minutes for mine. I think it's because it was super chilly on the day I made this bread, so I set it beside a little heater I had, which probably speeded up the rising a bit.
Step 8) Remove the blob from the bowl, and gently press it into a rectangle that is roughly the same length as the loaf pan and twice as wide.
Step 9) Roll this rectangle into a fat cylinder and place it with the seam side downwards in a buttered pan. I used a large bread loaf pan.
Step 10) Cover the loaf pan and set in a warm place to rise until the cylinder of raw bread is above the top of the pan.
Step 11) Bake at 350*F for 40 minutes. If you want a shiny crust, then just brush the top with a beaten egg.
Step 12) Remove from the pan and cool completely before cutting. ENJOY!!! You'll love this bread!
That's it! Super easy, pretty fast for bread, and yummy!
Final Thoughts on This Vintage Historical White Bread Recipe (No-Knead, Too!)
I am a chicken bread baker. Yep. If the directions are remotely difficult, I won't bother. If anything has to rise overnight---nope. Not for me. I like easy.
I also like traditions. When I read this magazine article from Mother Earth News, I was thrilled to find that it was really a folk recipe that has been published over and over again in various cookbooks! I LOVE that the earliest published date the author is aware of was from the 1600's! I bet it's been passed down for much longer in Europe. Isn't that cool?
The fact that we can make a traditional bread like this in our own homes in these modern day times is wonderful. And if you are a mom (or not), wouldn't it be great if you could set aside some time once a week or every two weeks and bake some loaves? You could freeze extras for later.
Anyway, that was my thought after I saw how beautifully it turned out. I can just imagine a colonial or pioneer woman pulling this bread from the oven for her family to enjoy.
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Hey, if you try out this traditional and historic bread recipe, please let us all know how it went for you! Leave comments! We love them!
Hugs, Health, and Self-Reliance,
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Rubel, William. Mother Earth News Magazine, 12/16-1/17. Page36.