Back in elementary school I recall very clearly sitting on the picnic benches at lunchtime observing (and envying) my classmates as they pulled items out of GI Joe and My Little Pony lunchboxes. Sandwiches made of Wonder bread and slathered with Skippy and Smuckers. Fruit Roll-Ups and a Hostess cherry pie with a Capri Sun lemonade to wash it all down. Overcome with a desperation to be like everyone else - I was embarrassed of what I'd then pull out of my own: Fluffy sandwiches of homemade molasses wheat bread covered in peanut butter and homemade strawberry jam. Pineapple apricot fruit leather made from only fruit and sugar then dried in the sun. Half-moon shaped cherry pies with crusts made of shortening and butter. And a small bottle of hand-squeezed lemonade. And believe it or not - I dreaded it! I wanted that Wonder bread and the Fruit Roll-Ups and ohhhhhhh the Hostess pies. But Mom, lovingly made us these things at home while looking down her nose at anything with preservatives and chemicals. It also didn't hurt that making food from scratch was much more cost effective for this coupon-cutting Chinese woman!
I've been eating Mom's whole wheat molasses bread since about the time I learned to chew. It's actually pretty famous among friends and family so I knew this was one thing I had to learn to make to feel "complete". The whole reason I started cooking so much more in college than I had in high school was because I missed Mom's cooking and wanted to replicate it while being far from home. But bread was one thing I wasn't willing to attempt.
However, college was long ago *sigh* and with my newly gifted stand-mixer I was ready to tackle those ever intimidating granules called yeast. So apropos that the first thing I mixed in this mixer was Mom's bread. I had luck on my side this night though...
She was staying with me for the evening and I was ready for her to teach me to make her famous bread. It's one of those things where you can't just read a recipe to know what a perfectly kneaded dough should feel like. Someone has to be there to knead it and show you exactly how it's supposed to be. And Mom was there:
Oh and the best part? I replicated these loaves perfectly, all by myself just a couple days later! Thanks Mom.