Please help me copyedit this recipe!
I'm rewriting/copyediting a cookbook that will be sold in supermarkets on Hawai'i's Big Island. I've found one bread recipe so far. It looks problematic to me. Here's the author's first version:
5 pounds flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1-1/2 cups melted shortening
About 4 cups water
2 packages dry yeast
1-1/2 cup lukewarm water for yeast (110 degrees)
1 teaspoon sugar
Dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. In a large bowl, add flour, sugar, salt, shortening, then add yeast mixtures. Knead until spongy. Uses more warm water while kneading, if necessary, until dough is spongy but not sticky.
Pat dough with flour, cover well and let rise until three times in size, 2 hours. Make into buns of loaves and place in greased pans.
Let rise until double, 1 hour.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown or place in a brick oven and bake until brown and gives a hollow sound when tapped.
Here's my version, with comments to the author in brackets:
Portuguese White Bread
Makes XXX sandwich loaves
Takes approximately XXX hours from start to finish
2 packages (XXX teaspoons) instant dry yeast
1-1/2 cup lukewarm water (110 degrees)
1 teaspoon sugar
5 pounds all-purpose or bread flour; white is traditional
1 cup sugar1 tablespoon salt
1-1/2 cups melted shortening [can’t we make this butter? Shortening is BAD for you.]
Approximately 4 cups water
[There might be something wrong here. I bake; I read baking forums. My favorite white bread recipe has 5 cups flour (approximate 1.25 pound) to 2 cups water. I sometimes have to fiddle with the flour and water amounts, but not by too much. If one followed that ratio, this recipe would require 8 cups of water, not 5.5 + 1.5 melted butter, or 7 cups liquid. No wonder Evelyn suggests adding more water. It doesn’t seem that 8 cups is enough! It’s much better, as I say below, to have the dough too wet before you knead it, as it’s much easier to add flour as you knead. Of course, I could be wrong, as I have never made bread in such huge batches, or with that much butter.]
Dissolve the yeast and the teaspoon of sugar in warm water. Let the mixture set until the yeast has dissolved and started bubbling. That means that it’s active.
Put the flour, sugar, salt, and shortening [butter?] into a large bowl or a bread bowl, then add the yeast mixture. Mix well. The dough should be moist and supple, but not too wet to handle. It’s better, however, that it be too moist than too dry; you can add extra flour as you’re kneading.
If you are using a traditional wide, shallow bread bowl, you can knead the dough in the bread bowl. If you don’t have a bread bowl (and many of us don’t!), you can turn the dough onto a floured counter or bread board, and knead.
Do you know how to knead bread? Push the dough away from you with the heels of your hands, so the dough is stretched out; fold it back on itself, turn the bread a quarter turn, and push the dough out again. You’ll probably need to do this for 5-10 minutes. Well-kneaded dough should be stretchy. If you pull it out, you should see long strings of gluten (the protein in bread flour). You might have to keep sprinkling flour on the counter and the dough to keep it from sticking.
If you’re lucky, you have a heavy-duty stand mixer with a dough hook. In that case, you don’t have to get all sweaty. Just put the dough in the mixer and let the bread hook knead it. No longer than 10 minutes! It is possible to over-knead with a stand mixer. This is a LOT of dough, so you will probably have to knead this in four batches unless you have a large commercial mixer. Don’t burn out your mixer motor doing this. Watch the dough; sometimes it climbs the hook and tries to engulf your mixer.
[Would it be possible to cut the proportions in this recipe in half? That’s a lot of bread, and a lot of work kneading that much bread, even if you have a mixer.]
Pat the dough with flour, cover well and let rise until it has tripled in size, or approximately 2 hours. The speed at which it rises will depend on the heat and humidity in your kitchen. The yeast beasties love heat and humidity. Usually not a problem on the Big Island, unless you live up Mauna Kea or Mauna Loa.
[I am familiar with recipes that require you to OIL the bread bowl, unless you’re letting the bread rise in couches or bannetons. If you let the bread rise in the bowl in which it was mixed, you usually just cover it. All the recipes I’ve seen recommend that the bread should rise to double its original size, not three times. Most of them also require more than two risings. I usually do four, counting the last rising after the bread has been shaped into loaves. I fold rather than punch down between risings.]
Form the dough into buns or loaves and place it on greased cookie sheets or into greased loaf-pans. Let it rise until doubled, or approximately one hour.
Bake the bread in a pre-heated oven, at 350 degrees, for 20-25 minutes, or until it is golden brown. If you have a traditional brick oven, slide the bread into the oven and bake until brown. You can check the loaves by pulling them out and tapping the top with your fingernail; the bread should sound hollow. If it doesn’t, slide the loaves back into the oven and give them a few more minutes.
[I bake at 500 degrees for the first five minutes, then 15 at 425 to 450. I also bake with steam from a pan full of water. I’m wondering if large loaves would be fully baked at 350.][Bread should cool at least half an hour before you cut into it. Letting it cool until it’s at room temperature would be the best, but who can wait that long? The bread is continuing to cook as it cools. Cutting it early can turn it into gummy, under-cooked bread. Your family may not want to wait even 30 minutes. If so, let them demolish one loaf while you let the rest of the baking cool properly.] [OK to add?]
I'm wondering if she actually baked this, and how it turned out. The author seems to be a recipe collector rather than a dedicated cook. She consistently gives vague directions that would lead a novice cook into disaster.
I hate to give readers a recipe that won't work; on the other hand, as I haven't baked this myself, I could be unnecessarily pessimistic. Perhaps I'll cut the recipe to a quarter of the quantities given and see how it turns out.