High Rising Sandwich Bread

This is probably one of the hardest posts I will ever write. I had planned to post the recipe for this High Rising Sandwich Bread on Sunday. But at 4 a.m., we received a call from my parents that my beloved Nanny had passed away. I spent most of Sunday in a fog. I know I was awake from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m., but I think I spent most of the day drinking cups of tea brewed by my wonderful husband, or playing Angry Birds to calm my mind.

I don’t know if I can ever adequately explain my relationship with my Nan, but if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that she’s pretty much the entire reason I even started blogging. I missed her, I missed her cooking, and I wanted to catalogue my journey to perfecting all the recipes she spent a lifetime teaching me.

She taught me how to be strong, and how to fight for what’s right. She taught me how to love, in the face of adversity. You see, my Nan, she had a lot of adversity in her life. Her mother wasn’t very nice to her (and could be downright abusive), and then her family walked out of her life for good when she chose to marry my grandfather. I think when she watched him go off to war 4 times in ten years (Korea, then three tours of Vietnam), it must have been the hardest thing she ever did. Welcoming back a war-torn man must have been the second hardest.

My Nanny was the strongest person I have ever known, and she carried our family. She was the heart. I only hope that we can pull together and be strong for her the way she was for us throughout her life.

One of the first things Nanny ever baked with us girls was homemade bread. She didn’t do it often, and in later years she used a bread machine because kneading became too hard for her. I didn’t use anything but a dough whisk and my own two hands to pull this bread together, and so can you.

Before I went to King Arthur Flour last month, I’d only once baked bread on my own, using a bread machine. The other times, I’d left the duty to my husband, because “yeast scares me”. Not anymore, folks. I’ll tell you something: Nanny may have been scared of things in her life, but she never EVER backed away from a challenge. I know it’s easy to get all retrospective now that she’s gone, but honestly – if I can live to nearly 80 and have someone say that about me, I think I’ll be able to die happy.

King Arthur Flour helped my confidence as a baker so much that I have baked, not bought, our sandwich bread every week since I returned. Baking that loaf of bread each week has quickly slipped into my weekend routine and doesn’t even feel like a chore. Kneading the bread on Saturday afternoon actually put me into a zen like state of relaxation.

So bake this bread, without a breadmaker. Challenge your fear of yeast. Eat a slice of buttered toast dipped in your milky coffee if you like – that’s how Nanny did it.

I’ll be away all of next week. There may be guest posts if I can pull them together, but if not, please know that I will be back soon, and stronger than ever. I started this blog for love of my Nan, and I’ll keep on writing and cooking and baking for love of my Nan.


High Rising Sandwich Bread
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  1. says

    You’ve been in my thoughts regardless of the multiple phone calls that we have shared in the past 24 hours. This post teared me up – not only because of your loss, but because of the stated impact that your Nan had on your life.

    This is a lovely and heartfelt way to pay tribute to your amazing grandmother. I am sure she is incredibly proud of the kind, genuine and loving woman that you have become.

    You know that I’m only a phone call, text or skype chat away if you need anything!

  2. says

    I’m so sorry to hear that, lovely. I lost my nan about 12 months ago and I can imagine how you’re feeling right now. I’m glad you rose to the challenge of the bread, it looks amazing!

  3. says

    Amber, I’m sure your grandmother couldn’t be more proud of you. You carry on her strength and love for your family, it is easy to see in your writing. Thanks for sharing your story of your Nanny and her cooking. I will be thinking of you and your family.
    Making bread really is one of the most relaxing and rewarding things that happens in the kitchen.

  4. says

    Amber, I am so very sorry for your loss. Please know that you are in my thoughts. It’s unbelievable that you pulled this post together. Take all the time you need – we’ll be here when you get back.


  5. says

    Given that our first conversations within minutes of meeting were about your grandmother, I know how much of an impact she had on your life. Her influence no doubt helped make you the gorgeous, caring, hilarious, talented person I’m so lucky to know – sending hugs all the way down to SA.

  6. says

    I’m so sorry Amber…I know I’ve said it before, but my heart just breaks for you and your family and I know there really aren’t words right now. Just know that what a loving, strong, and beautiful woman your Nan was comes across on your blog with every post, and I know that she is so very proud what a loving, strong, and beautiful woman you are because of her. Please let me know if there is anything at all I can do. You’ve got my number; don’t hesitate to call/text/whatever! Sending you and your family lots of love.

  7. says

    love you Amber . . . am sad for you but i’m not sorry for you; you’ve had a wonderful gift given to you in your Nanny . . . and you know this. grief is a powerful thing and can help give you more focus, can give you perspective and gives us cherished and tender memories. face this grief head-on . . . then write the stories it reveals . . . hugs to you friend . . .

  8. says

    Amber… my heart is just breaking for you. You always spoke of your Nan… often and with such love… I cant even imagine the pain you are feeling. If you need anything let me know… I would be happy to help in any way!

  9. says

    My deepest sympathy to you, Amber. So sorry to hear about the loss of such a special person in your life. Your words describing your Nan are lovely and heartwarming, and I’m positive she is smiling down on you.

  10. Jamie says

    Amber it only took meeting you Nanny once to know that she had an amazing and loving spirit. I remember our first meeting and meeting your Nan. She immediately made me feel not only welcome but like a member of the family. You and I have known each other for quite sometime and I have seen you grow from that young high school student to the wonderfully, successful, conifidant, loving and beautiful woman you are today. I know your Nan is proud!

  11. says

    I’m so sorry for your loss, hon.

    I love the way you write about her. So much heart. It’s hard for me to read about her being married to someone who went away 4 times to war. When I read that sentence, I feel her pain. I can imagine how she passed the time while he was gone and loved him through it all. Wow. Does that kind of love still exist in the world?

    My thoughts & prayers are with you.

  12. says

    Amber, my heart goes out to you. This post just shows me how strong you are and where you got it from. Your nan was clearly an amazing woman as are you. You take care of yourself and be with your family. -xo

  13. says

    Amber–so so sorry about your Nan. I also had a grandma who taught me so much about independence and cooking and so many things. She died quite some time ago so I can only imagine what you’re going through.

    On a good note–you Nan would be so proud of this bread!! It looks amazing. Perfection.

  14. says

    I share in the condolences from others and know how you are feeling. My Grandma has been gone 31 years but not a day goes by I don’t think of her; she was a guiding force in my life and brought me joy like no other. So know that there is nothing finer, nothing, that we can do in this life but leave a legacy like your Nan has left with you. You’ve honored her with your love and your words here and by carrying on that legacy.

    I am sure you will do her proud and my thoughts and heartfelt prayers are with you and your family

  15. says

    I am so very sorry for your loss. I was never very close with either of my grandmothers, but my Mom is currently raising my brother’s three kids (he passed 3 years ago), and I can only imagine what losing her is going to be like for them.

    I agree with the other comments – your Nanny would be very proud of you and your beautiful bread.

  16. says

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Amber. How wonderful to have had someone like your Nan in your life.

    The bread is beautiful. I am sure she would have been proud.

  17. says

    What a beautiful post you have written… I’m so sorry to hear about your Nan. I’m happy though, that you have things like this bread to keep her close to you. Every time you bake you will have her close to your heart and a part of her will be there with you. Hugs from San Diego… our prayers are with you…

  18. Cynthia says

    I get your RSS feed, and when I saw your post I had to write. I had a Nanny too. She was my bright, shining star. She made my life better in so many ways, and she was the strongest female influence in my life. If I have grace, it is because of her. My heart weeps for you. I hope the pain of her loss subsides quickly and that you always feel her near you, surrounding you with love.

    I have one word of advice… Please don’t do what I did. Whenever I thought of Nanny, I thought of the day she died, and I mourned her. After ten years, I finally realized what a disservice I was doing to her. We all have our life’s worst day on the day we die, and that was the day I kept remembering! She lived a MAGNIFICENT life. By focusing on that one day, I was giving her worst day precedence, instead of treasuring every other day that we had together.

    Now I think of every other day that I can remember, out of her life, and I celebrate her. If I even start to think about the day she died, I give myself a little shake and a scolding, and I remind myself that it was only ONE day, and tell myself that I need to remember all the other wonderful days I had with her. When you get over the initial stages of your grief, I hope you will do the same, and celebrate your Nanny too.

  19. says

    My heartfelt condolensces for your loss. My grandmother also lived through a lot of adversity in her life and was a strong (and when I was very yound, at times scary!) woman I respected very much. I think it was partly the time in which they lived. When we lose our grandparents, it feels like we’re losing history. It’s very sad, but we honor them by making new history. :)

    I’m usually terrible at condoling with people, why can I do it today? I know! I received your cupcake carrier in the mail yesterday with your beautiful hand-written note. It was touching. Thank you so much for being so kind and generous. It is a trait that, I’m happy to say, is completely infectious with me! It’s easy to be genuine with genuine people. I can’t thank you enough. I really have been eyeing a cupcake carrier for months, as I love to bake them and send them to work with my husband. Up until now we’d be using a regular cake carrier, which actually has one of the 3 hinges busted, so it’s always a bit scary to use. Your Nan would, I’m sure, be proud of your generosity and what you’ve built with this beautiful blog. :)

  20. JeninWA says

    I came across this recipe and was sorry to hear about your Nan.
    I made this bread tonight and wondered what the egg was for? It’s not included in the recipe. I’m assuming it’s for a wash?

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