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Author Notes: This bread has been baked daily at the Nantahala Outdoor Center in Bryson City, North Carolina since 1979. It's been baked by me annually since 2007, when my mom found a vintage NOC cookbook titled "River Runners Special" at a yardsale for 75 cents. She and my dad used to canoe the Nantahala River when they were first dating and after they got married. When she found this cookbook, she told me how amazing and comforting this fresh, warm bread tasted with a bowl of hot soup after coming in off the river (the Nantahala is a frigidly cold river, even in summer, as it flows from the bottom of a lake). I inherited their love of the outdoors, and also their love of this bread, evidently.
I started a tradition of baking a batch right before school started back each year when I was in college, so I could freeze the loaves and take them with me. I would thaw little bits at a time, savoring them throughout the fall semester, eating it with lots of butter or dipping into soup. I would hoard it furiously as it was one of my few "luxury" foods I had as a destitute college student.
It's still one of my all-time favorite recipes to make (and eat!) and I make it around the same time every year. I just made it last week, actually, because fall is ever so slightly beginning to creep in and I couldn't wait any longer. I kept one loaf for my husband and me, and gave the other to my mom. I hope it still reminds her of the river. —Kristien
Makes 2 loaves
- 4 cups Tepid Water
- 1/4 cup Active Dry Yeast
- 4 teaspoons Salt
- 1 teaspoon Dried Dill Weed
- 1 teaspoon Fresh Rosemary
- 6 tablespoons Sugar
- 1/4 cup Butter, melted
- 1/2 cup Powdered Milk
- 1 cup Onions, chopped
- 6-7 cups All-Purpose White Flour
- 4 cups Whole Wheat Flour
- Makes two 9 x 5 x 3 loaves. Mix with a whisk: water, yeast, salt, dill, rosemary, sugar, butter, powdered milk, and onions.
- Allow yeast to activate until mixture becomes bubbly, approximately 10-15 minutes.
- Add flours to yeast mixture.
- Beat by hand until well-mixed. Turn dough onto floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. If you have a dough hook and mixes, beat for 5 minutes on low speed.
- Allow mixture to rise until doubled in size, approximately 45 minutes.
- After dough rises, place on lightly floured surface and knead well. (I usually knead about 30-35 times, adding flour as needed)
- Shape into two equal-sized loaves and place in buttered baking pans.
- Bake loaves at 350 F for 45-55 minutes.
- Allow loaves to cool in pans briefly, then remove from pans and allow to continue cooling.
- While loaves are still warm, brush tops with your favorite salted butter.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Recipe for When You Want It to Feel Like Fall