Thursday, January 19, 2012
That warm, fuzzy feeling inside.
There's something incredibly rewarding about baking your own bread. Creating a perfect environment for the yeast to grow. Kneading the dough to work the gluten, making a more tender loaf. Waiting ever-so-patiently for the bread to rise. The wonderful smell of freshly baked bread filling the house. And slicing through the crust of your own warm-from-the-over creation? Heavenly. What better way to warm up the house on another chilly winter evening? Therefore, today's plan of action was to pull the trusty Betty Crocker Cookbook off the shelf and get kneading!
I've learned over time that bread is a remarkably easy and difficult thing to make. Follow the directions very carefully and bread-making becomes a simple exercise in patience. Optimal water temperature make for better yeast growth, so out comes the thermometer. Yeast is dissolved, and wet ingredients get mixed together with the awesomeness of my 1956 Sunbeam Mixmaster junior. I think it makes everything taste better.
It's amazing how much flour can be absorbed into a loaf(or 2)of bread. This one takes 10 cups!
Again, temperature plays a key role in creating a fluffy, tender dough. This bread needs an hour of rising, covered with a clean dish towel, propped on the espresso machine. Mine has a heat plate on top to keep the cups warm, so it has proved to be the ideal dough-rising location. Better than on top of the fridge, or behind the computer monitor.
Next step, rolling the dough to up into a loaf. It's not as simple as shaping an oval to dump into a loaf pan - no - this requires rolling pin skills! A bread loaf is actually made by flattening the dough into a long rectangle, then rolling it like a jelly roll, squishing the ends, and dropping that into the pan. Make sense? Think about it the next time you eat a slice of bread. Trying tearing a piece off and you'll notice how the bread tears in a distinctly spiral direction.
Another hour tucked under the towel on top of the espresso machine, then it's into the toasty oven for a half hour (see what I mean about the patience?) and finally, FINALLY - well, have a look.
See how rewarding it can be? And WAY better that driving to the store, especially in this cold weather. Bonus of baking your own bread, besides the eating? Suddenly, the house is a whole lot warmer. :)