Every holiday my grandmother made her famous pan (bread). I never knew where she got her recipe, I only know that I am the only one left in my family who can make it just the way she did. Everyone has the recipe, there’s just something about it that requires special handling. If you don’t knead it just enough, it can be a little too dense, it can taste a little flat or just not quite right. It’s still good bread, still looks great, but that special something is missing. I think what it is that makes it turn out just right is my grandmother’s rule knead it till the dough whistles. Yep, it whistles. It takes a long time and bread machines don’t get it. The flavor goes off. You have to completely work that dough – no cheating and no slacking. Knead it till it whistles.
Grandma Lupe’s Pan
4 packages active dry yeast (don’t get rapid rise – another thing that makes the flavor go off)
4 eggs (room temperature)
4 cups hot water (not too hot – it’ll kill the yeast)
1 c. sugar
1 c. butter (softened)
flour (my grandmother liked to use 13 loose cups sifted, I use a bit at a time till it feels right and I never sift)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Pour four cups of hot water into a large mixing bowl then sprinkle the dry yeast on top of the water. I always add a tablespoon or two of sugar to test the yeast. Dissolve the yeast by mixing it with a wire whisk, add the sugar and let it sit for a few minutes. If it starts to form big bubbles on top, foamy like beer, then the yeast is good and you can move on to the next step.
Take the softened butter and mix it into the water and yeast mixture. Never, ever use margarine but find the best creamy unsalted, butter you can. I buy this amazing Normandy butter from The Cheese Store in Silverlake. It’s expensive, but sooo worth it. You can’t beat the taste or the succulent flakiness that it gives the dough.
Add the cup of sugar, the eggs and the dash of salt and whisk it all together. Let it sit for about five minutes.
Now for the flour. I take about a cup at a time and start whisking it in. When it becomes to thick and goopy for the whisk, I switch to a spatula and then my hands. I put in enough flour to produce a smooth, slightly sticky dough. Let that dough rest for about 20 minutes, then turn out onto a lightly floured board.
Knead the dough until it whistles, sprinkling small amounts of flour to the dough and the board each time it becomes too sticky to work. It usually takes me about an hour to knead the dough till it gets the air bubbles in it that makes it whistle. Like I said, it’s a lot of work but little hands love to help and I find that it’s a great and fun time with my grandchildren.
Turn out the dough into a buttered mixing bowl and cover it with a cloth.
Let rise for about two hours. It should double in size. Once it has, punch it down and re-cover it and let it sit for another hour.
Now the dough is ready to form or roll into shapes. We always make braids, monkey bread, crescents, rosettes and just plain rolls.
Once the dough is formed, place them onto greased baking sheets and let rise again for about 15-20 minutes. Just before popping a tray into the oven, brush your bread with an egg wash. I use egg yolks with a touch of cream. You can also add sesame seeds if you like.
Bake each tray at 350 degrees until the bread is golden brown. Baking time depends on the size and density of your roll. Small crescents will take about 10-15 minutes, a large braid may take 40 minutes. It depends.
This bread is light and airy, touched with sweetness and tastes marvelous dripping with butter or dipped into coffee or hot chocolate. It’s great toasted the next day and makes an incredible turkey sandwich the day after Thanksgiving. I make big rounds of it for just that purpose.
This recipe makes A LOT of bread but I promise, it won’t go to waste.