Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Joy of Baking?

I am told that women over 40 should really focus on weight lifting instead of aerobics. I am convinced that baking bread is enough. I was kneading my bread the other day and I set the timer for 10 minutes. I wanted to do this recipe just as indicated. I was kneading way in my kitchen, looking out the window, humming away. Surely I am almost near the end? Nope. 2 minutes 45 seconds in. That was it. I almost died.
So I kept kneading away and finally gave up at the 8 minute mark. That is when I had Athena take over. Pioneer women must have been mighty tough!

My bread looked good. All was going well. We went out for a walk while it was in its final rising stage. When I came home the dough was one inch above the top of the pan, just like the book said. I baked it and it flopped. It came out square, like a sandwich loaf. Oh help! Why can't I make a decent looking loaf of bread. It tasted wonderful but my husband said it was too dense. One would think that having a husband who was a BAKERY MANAGER at Safeway for 10 years I could get a little guidance!

On to cookies. Which I don't really eat but I have a little one and a big one who do. Why are my cookies always as flat as a pancake? Flatter than a pancake actually. Side note: I do make good pancakes. My daughter so lovingly sent me a picture of the cookies she baked today. They were a mile high. Brat.

So today I made loaves. I broke out my Whole Foods Cookbook and tried two new recipes. The one was banana bread with dried cherries and dark chocolate chips. The other two were pumpkin bread.

They look really nice and were easy to do. No Kitchen Aid necessary, just the good old wooden spoon. Again, my hat off to pioneer women! Like I said, these loaves look amazing. They will probably taste horrible. After all, they do have whole wheat flour in them. We'll find out soon. As soon as they are cool enough to cut.

PS If you have any bread baking advice for me or any great recipes, I would LOVE to hear.


Tracey said...

I made bread today as I do every week. Your bread is coming out flat because you are letting it rise too long. On your second rise you really shouldn't go longer than an hour before you put it in the oven. Also, I know this goes against the norm, but I never knead longer than 6 minutes{gasp}. These over 40 arm's couldn't stand 10 minutes! Good luck.

Paula said...

I agree, don't let the loaves rise too long. 30 min is usually enough. Also, keep the dough as wet as possible (ie, don't add too much flour kneading), it keeps the bread moist. Try again.

Dawn said...

I never seem to get around to weightlifting, maybe I should do some bread baking. The flat cookies, I might have an idea about...I've found that whipping lots of air into the butter/sugar mixture really helps. I mix the butter for a long time!

denise said...

This post has really great bread baking tips.

I am convinced that the flour, yeast and water must be really good quality just for bread baking, and then the rest will fall into place. I use yeast that is kept in the freezer, only filtered water, and make sure that I have a really warm spot for a rise. :)

For cookies and other types of breads I have switched to a really good quality baking powder. Makes things much fluffier!

Earth Mama said...

Being gluten free I gave up trying to make a good loaf of bread. We have plans on experimenting with making a gluten free sour dough starter adn seeing what our bread might turn out like. For now, I make breads like you, and pies. The banana bread with dried cherries and dark chocolate chips sounds right up my alley!