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For the past month I have been trying to make the perfect “Johnny Cake” and “Tortilla”. Each time I try, I always get a different texture or consistency.
I do not rely on bread machines or stand mixers for my kneading. I figured at some point you’ll have to handle the raw dough yourself, so why not do it from the beginning.
Kneading bread is a practice that goes back thousands of years. Remember the Israelites, rushing to prepare their bread in anticipation of their freedom from the Egyptians over 5000 years ago, or our mothers making bread every Saturday in their kitchens? Talk about getting in touch with your roots!!
The technique for kneading is easy to learn and very easy on the hands. The first thing you do is to make sure your hands are clean whenever you are going to work with dough.
Kneading is simply a repetition of mix, fold, press and rotate. Why then, do my “Johnny Cakes” and “Tortillas” not come out like my niece’s, Pamela’s; “Perfect and Delicious”!
Here are the steps that I take: Make sure the bowl and/or counter top is clean.
Ingredients: 2 cups flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoon shortening (Crisco butter flavor)
¾ cup warm water
½ teaspoon salt
Mix all the ingredients together until the flour is hydrated and all the ingredients are uniformly distributed. Knead by hand for 10 minutes, or until dough is smooth.
Form dough balls, flatten with the heel of one hand on top and press down and forward to desired flatness.
Place the flattened dough on a baking sheet and bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven until golden brown, 20- 25 minutes.
OH! One more thing; remember I said earlier that the method is easy on the hands? Here is what I also do to get that delicious taste: as I stand in front of the counter, I place one foot forward and the other back. While I knead, I rock gently and rhythmically back and forth between my front and back feet. I mix, rotate and fold while humming and rocking. By doing this, I build up energy to continue kneading.
After all this, my Johnny Cake is still not perfect; sometimes brittle, sometimes hard or puffed-up! Let me know what I’m doing wrong!!