Friday, October 26, 2012

A Short History of Bread

This has been a long road and although I am now travelling successfully down it, I still have a way to go. When I first started to make bread years ago, lots of years ago, I used a 1lb bread maker with a nice paddle that got lodged in the bread. We were busy home schoolers back then. Each morning one of the girls was responsible for putting the stuff in the bread maker. Every day at lunch we would take out the warm loaf and slice it vertically into 4 long wedges. It was hot and tasty but not very aesthetically pleasing. Plus the issue of that dumb paddle.

Moving on...
About a year ago I decided that I would try making bread again. I got a recipe and a Kitchen Aid and threw everything in and turned it on. The dough was too firm and it stuck on the bread hook. My husband said there was too much flour. (He was a Safeway Bakery Manager for many years). I argued that the recipe called for that much. After many poor loaves I gave up using the Kitchen Aid. I told myself I can do this. I can. So I started from the beginning.

I got a recipe and some bowls and my ingredients and some elbow grease and set out to learn to make a decent loaf of bread. And you know what? It worked. I have learned several things in the process.

  1. The amount of flour in a bread recipe is approximate.
  2. You need to get a feel for how the dough should be.
  3. Sometimes, doing things the old fashioned way is best.
  4. Ask your blogging and facebook friends for advice.
  5. You can teach an old dog new tricks.

This is my everyday bread recipe. I don't know where I got it from but I have changed it so much from the original that it matters not.

Everyday Bread

2c warm filtered
1/2 cup sugar (scant)
1 tablespoon of active dry yeast

I boil one cup of water, add the sugar to dissolve and then add the other cup of filtered water from the tap. After the sugar is dissolved, add the yeast and allow to activate.

Add: 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
         1/4 cup melted butter
         and around 5 1/2 cups of flour

Knead until smooth, allow to rise until doubled in a well greased bowl covered with a damp cloth. Shape into two loaves and put in bread pans. Let rise until it is just above the top of the pan. Bake at 350 for exactly 33 minutes.

I proof the bread in my oven using the bread proof setting but if not just put it in the oven with the light on. I also use some whole wheat flour and some white. More white. Way more. Say, 1 cup whole wheat and the rest white. When I am trying to be particularly healthy I use 2 cups whole wheat. :)

And like I said, I still have a way to go. I have some trouble with the shaping, and can someone tell me why this happens more often than not? My husband tells me it is rising too fast but what would he know? ;)


Tara said...

You're right about bread making being a process, it took me several years to perfect the method that works for me and doesn't take all day!

Your bread looks wonderful and tasty!!

Dawn said...

Yum...that looks delicious. My family keeps asking me when I'm going to start making bread again. I used to make it with a kitchen aid too. I'm never home long enough to make bread right now, but maybe after the new year...