Mary Beth Johnson is a wife and mum to four schooners, as she's dubbed her children. On a normal afternoon, you would find her in moccasins, skinny jeans and a comfortable tee, camera in hand. Recently moving to the suburbs of Atlanta, Mary Beth spends her days homeschooling, sneaking away to the bookstore, trying to act the part of a southerner, and sifting through recipes in The Vegetarian Times. Food is her love language.
I taught myself how to make yeast bread when I was in high school. I know it's not your typical teenage pastime, but I loved experimenting with all kinds of recipes..rye...oat...pumpernickel...you name it. I wanted to try my hand at it. I look back at the level of difficulty I fearlessly tackled with my mother's stash of cookbooks and wonder if I would have the courage to try some of those same recipes now.
I once read that who we are at the core is best defined when we're in the comfort of our own home, when no one's watching. What do we do with that space of time? How do we fill up those precious seconds, minutes, hours?
I turn 27 next week and even after all these years and life seasons since that teenager in my mom's kitchen, I am still me deep down. When I have those precious minutes to do something a little special, I grab a good book to read and get something warm cooking in the kitchen. My favorite feeling is still home.
It can take a while to get the hang of bread making, but it is so worth it when your house smells amazing! This recipe I'm sharing is on the easier end and makes several small loaves. It was passed on to me from a dear mentor and friend and has remained one of my favorites for years. Every time I make it for someone they try to pinpoint what it is that gives it such a unique flavoring. I'll let you in on the secret, it's the lemon (or orange) flavoring. Something about a few drops makes the entire recipe have a wow factor.
You can make your bread however you like, but I think braided loaves are so pretty. I divide my big ball of dough into three big chunks and then divide those chunks into thirds as seen above.
^^^ Braid loosely and tuck in the ends. I also have made cinnamon rolls with one of the thirds of dough and that is especially nice to have on cold mornings. I roll the dough out really thin on a floured surface, spread liberally with softened butter, and sprinkle a cinnamon/sugar combination on top before rolling it all up and cutting it evenly. Two big tips for successful bread making: make sure the water that you mix with the yeast is really warm to the touch, but not hot. This is what activates the yeast and makes your bread rise. Also, let your bread rise in a slightly warm place with no drafts. The microwave is a great option for this and has worked well for me in my own kitchen.
2 cups milk
1 cup butter - melted
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
9 cups flour - approximate & divided
2 pkgs yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 drop YL Lemon Essential Oil, or 1 tsp. lemon/orange extract
In large bowl, (it's so much easier if you start out in a stand mixer!) stir together milk, melted butter, sugar, and salt. Slowly stir in 5 cups of the flour into the milk mixture. Stir in the eggs. In a separate small bowl, stir in warm water with the yeast. Let rest for about 10 minutes to activate. In another small bowl, mix vanilla extract and lemon essential oil together. Next, add the yeast mixture and extract mixture to the dough.
Mix in enough of the remaining flour (about 4 cups) to the dough to form a stiff dough. As I'm adding the flour, it begins to get to be too much for my mixer, so i just transfer it to the countertop and finish mixing together there. When you've got an elastic dough consistency that doesn't stick to your hands, knead the ball of dough on floured surface for 5 - 10 minute to get out all of the air.
Grease a large bowl with butter and place kneaded dough inside, turning once to coat the dough with butter. Cover loosely with a damp towel or saran wrap and let rise till double. (This usually takes a couple of hours.) When it's done rising, punch the dough down once to let out all of the air.
Now, you can use this dough for a variety of things. You can spread some out, butter, and sprinkle cinnamon/sugar mixture on it and make cinnamon rolls. You can separate and make into rolls. You can make into braided loaves. Or, there's enough dough to make a combination of all of these. Whichever you decide, place your rolled out dough on greased baking sheets and cover loosely. Let rise till double. (Usually takes about an hour or an hour and a half.)
When rising is complete, I like to whisk together an egg yolk or two and brush it on my loaves. It will give it a nicely golden shine when done baking. Bake at 325 degrees for 20-30 minutes and/or till golden brown. You may have to cover with tinfoil if the loaf is browning too quickly. Bread should sound hollow when tapped.
Get ready for your house to smell amazing!!!!!!!
*** Any suggestions made on this blog are very specific to Young Living essential oils and should not be used with oils from another source. Statements made on this website about Young Living Essential Oils have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products and information are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Anyone suffering from disease or injury should consult with a physician. If you are currently on medication, please DO NOT STOP. This is just how I make & do things. you must make informed decisions for yourself and your own family.
“We are starting our journey with Essential Oils and have done our own research on the purity of oils. I am confident in using oils in our recipes because we only use Young Living. They are beyond organic and never use pesticides, herbicides or any harmful chemicals. Their soil has never been exposed to them as well. I don’t suggest ever using any other oil for ingestion because I don’t know of their purity. "