One of my hobbies is baking breads. I started doing this many years ago. When I started some of my breads were only edible by outdoor creatures but I got better pretty quick. Most people seemed to like my breads and I know I did. Then one day I went to a restaurant called Razoo’s where, with my crawfish et tu fe, I had a drop biscuit exactly like the ones I make homemade. Well… not exactly, their biscuit was MUCH more fluffy than mine. I was annoyed.
I started experimenting and quickly discovered that adding more milk acheived the fluffyness that their biscuits had. After that, I started upping the liquid in all of my recipes, which improved them nicely.
A few years ago I met the Queen’s Aunt Mildred and Uncle Leonard. Absolutely wonderful people, I sat in their kitchen and talked to Leonard for hours and honestly I didn’t want to leave when we had to go. At the time, the Prince was in diapers and had just learned to do things like climb down out of the truck. It was obvious when Mildred got around him that she was one of those natural great moms. I think they had eight kids, so maybe practice made perfect.
Sadly, that one meeting of Aunt Mildred was all I’ll get in this life, she passed a short time back.
Now many years ago one of my Grandfathers passed away and unfortunately took his barbecue slaw recipe to the grave. Sometimes I wonder if he did that on purpose… Since then my cousin has been trying to replicate it and appears to be very close, although we both agree that something isn’t the same with it. He’s still working on it, we will find what’s missing.
Talking about this with the Queen prompted her to start looking at favorite recipes from our elders. One of those recipes was for plain white bread from Aunt Mildred. She gave me that recipe to make for her and insisted that I follow it exactly, which meant using shortening instead of butter. Now, there’s nothing really unusual about this recipe, all bread recipes are pretty much the same. However, when I made this, it was obvious that something was different. When the dough was finished and ready for kneading, it was VERY light compared to all of my other doughs. The finished product was also VERY fluffy.
I don’t care for the taste of shortening in bread, perhaps because of my three years of being Spongebob at KFC. But I wanted to know if that was what accounted for the texture of Aunt Mildred’s bread. So I started experimenting, first by replacing shortening with butter in her recipe. It made no difference in the texture at all, still just as fluffy. (And despite the Queen, it tasted better…)
The only other difference I could see was using water vs. milk. Changing those around really made no difference at all. So I was puzzled. Then it occurred to me that one step was different, and it was just technique, nothing in the mix, just how you mix it. I guess in the recipes I first used, mixing the dry yeast in the flour and pouring the liquid into that to make the dough was a time saving step. But in Aunt Mildred’s bread, she puts the yeast into the warm liquid first and lets it grow for twenty minutes.
Since I’m kinda dumb, I didn’t really believe that the order of mixing the yeast would make a difference. So up until last night, I never tested this on my other recipes. Last night I made my usual Parker House rolls for dinner today. But this time, I changed the technique. The difference is stunning.
Thank you Aunt Mildred.
I think that Uncle Leonard must be the only man on earth luckier than me.