Working Mother Makes Lots of Dough

Sensational headline? I think not.

I have been stuck inside with three boys who are reveling in their wholly-unexpected, but thoroughly appreciated snow day.

Trusting they would use their pent up energy for good and not evil purposes, I instructed them to check  homework they had completed the night before to ensure they really did do their best and then shovel.

Beyond that, I fully expected that they would make themselves nourishing meals and snacks and clean up after themselves.

So confident I was in my sons’ strength of character that I hid in my office for a couple of hours so I could prep my manuscript for submission to unsuspecting acquisition editors.

However, when I ventured into the kitchen at approximately 11am, I found dishes piled high in the sink and a half-empty pancake mix box sitting open on the counter that was sprinkled with chocolate chips – an ingredient I hate to see squandered. At least five inches of snow sat in our un-shoveled driveway.

“Boys!’ I yelled with no small amount of urgency. An avalanche of snow cascaded from the roof above and tumbled onto the back deck.

As they stood before me, I asked, “Why are there chocolate chips all over the counter?”

“We made pancakes. It’s what the recipe called for,” my youngest boldly explained.

I sent two out to shovel while the pancake maker stayed inside with me and helped clean up the kitchen. By the time the others came back inside, it was time for lunch.

I informed them that there were plenty of sandwich fixings and returned to my book. A few minutes later, there was a tap on the door.

“We’re out of bread.” It was the older half of my shoveling crew.

I dashed back to the kitchen, certain I had purchased some just yesterday during my mad rush to stock up on chocolate in advance of the storm.

As I suspected, there, smack in the middle of the kitchen table was the new unopened loaf. I turned to my son, eyebrow raised and asked, “Well?”

“I don’t like that kind,” he said matter-of-factly.

“Too bad,” I replied. “I’m not driving to the store in this weather just to get a different kind of bread.”

“Can we make some?”

At this point, I was ready to screech, “Do I look like Martha Stewart to you?”

But, I didn’t.

I remembered that my Mom would bake rye bread on snow days. Yummy, chewy, warm homemade rye bread slathered in butter.

My mouth began watering and I peered into the most remote corners of my pantry, looking for the ingredients. Certain I had everything I needed, I countered my son’s request with something a little more delicate. A challenge, if you will.

“Only if you help me.”

Lacking the enviable upper arm strength that I’m sure our pioneer ancestors flaunted, I gave him the job of kneading the dough. For ten minutes. It is, after all, what the recipe calls for.

Mom’s Swedish Rye Bread

2 packets active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 tbls salt
2 tbls shortening
1 1/2 cups hot water
2 1/2 rye flour, sifted
3 tbls. caraway seeds, optional
3 1/2-4 cups of flour

(Preheat oven to 375 degrees.)

  1. Softened the active dry yeast in 1/4 cup warm water in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
  2. In another bowl, mix brown sugar, molasses, salt and shortening. Add hot water and stir until sugar dissolves. Cool to lukewarm.
  3. Stir in sifted rye flour. Beat well. 
  4. Add yeast and caraway seeds. Stir in additional flour.
  5. Cover with a clean towel and let rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle clean surface with flour. Knead dough for 10 minutes.
  7. Place dough in lightly greased bowl. Cover and let rise in warm place until it doubles (about 1 1/2 hours). 
  8. Punch down dough, turn out onto clean surface and separate into two pieces of dough. Form them into balls. Return them to two separate lightly greased bowls and cover for 10 minutes.
  9. Pat balls into round loaves. Place on greased cookie sheet. Cover with clean towel and let rise until double (about 1 1/2 hours).
  10. Bake for 25-35 minutes. For softer crust, brush with melted butter.
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