Tuesday, July 19, 2011

This 4-Her Loafs Around!

We live in an instant world. Our cell phone is literally attached at the hip. Kids are just as likely to text a friend across the room rather than take 10 steps to ask them a question in person.

Bread baking doesn't exactly fit the "instant" mode. So it's encouraging to see 4-Hers still learning about bread baking, an art that's been around practically since the beginning of time.

Cody Burnett earned the Grand Champion rosette at the Stafford County Fair this year with a loaf of Oatmeal Whole Wheat Bread. And, fittingly enough, she baked it in her Grandma Nina Seibert's kitchen with a family recipe.

That's what 4-H is all about. It's about moms and dads and grandmas and grandpas standing behind kids and teaching them things like how to bake a loaf of bread or how to clip a steer. But it's about way more than that: It's about learning to work side-by-side toward a common goal. And the feeling of family extends beyond bloodlines. It's that veteran 4-Her showing a new 4-H family how to get a bucket calf ready for a show. It's that older 4-H cook standing alongside the first-year 4-Her and showing her how to measure flour ... and gently correcting when the novice inevitably taps it on the counter in an effort to get more in the cup.

Cody is 13 years old and will be an 8th grader at Macksville Junior High next school year. She's been baking bread for about three years now.

She doesn't let the Kitchen Aid mixer do all the work, though she does use it to get started.

"I like to knead," Cody said. "That's the fun part."

What 13-year-old girl doesn't need a stress reliever every now and again? (Don't you remember junior high and adolescence in general?)

She practiced the recipe four different times, perfecting the kneading time and learning how to shape the loaf. By the time fair baking rolled around, she only had to make the recipe once to get the Grand Champion entry, which the judge praised as "a nearly perfect loaf."

It might not be instant. But it's sure gratification.

Oatmeal Whole Wheat Bread
1/2 cup margarine
1 cup quick oatmeal
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 tbsp. yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 egg
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp. dough enhancer
3 cups bread flour

Put margarine, oatmeal, salt and brown sugar in large mixing bowl. Add boiling water. Mix well. Dissolve yeast in warm water. Cool slightly. Mix in egg after cooled. Add to first mixture. Add whole wheat flour and dough enhancer. Mix for 3 minutes in mixer. Put on dough hook. Add bread flour. Mix 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from mixer bowl and knead well.

Let rise until doubled. Punch down and then shape into 2 loaves or 24 rolls. Let rise again. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.

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