Wednesday, October 22, 2014

It's Only Bread . . . But I Like It!

I know I'm not alone when I say yeast intimidates me. After all my years of cooking and baking, making bread -- good bread, the kind that makes my husband swoon and say, "Honey, if only you could make bread like this!" -- still scares me.  As careful as I am to measure, to test, to watch and wait, I still hold my breath when I open the oven door and wonder, "Is it going to be okay? Is it going to be another doorstop?"

I'm envious of all those who tell me it's so easy. (I suspect they're the same ones who say the same thing about pie dough. Call me suspicious.) And I've had a good share of encouragement. After I donated my bread machine to Goodwill in despair, Mr. Rosemary bought me a Kitchen Aid stand mixer with a dough hook. My neighbor took me into her kitchen and performed breadmaking alchemy in front of my very eyes.

Even my brother can whip up a mean loaf of challah. Spurred by that sibling rivalry, I decided I'd make it myselfI did. It was lovely. But I rested on my laurels too long, and didn't repeat the feat.

I've other other confrontations with yeast and fared pretty well. I can make pizza dough, and I've made focaccia with modest success, but I still lack a good track record. Hit and miss successes are all I can rack up.

I've decided to accept the gauntlet again -- this time, it's because of my 9 year-old cooking student. He wants to make bread badly. I've tried to reason with the boy. I tell him we really don't have time for that rising, and shaping and re-rising during our after school sessions. So we've made some quick breads and had a ball making soft pretzels.

Still . . . . it's BREAD he wants to make. So the teacher has to learn before she can teach. And what better source than King Arthur Flour?

I read and watched and listened and I did it. And even though I held my breath when I opened the oven, it was with a smile this time.

An old dog can learn new tricks. Thanks for the hand-holding, KAF.

The bread baking saga will continue . . .

Basic Bread
King Arthur’s Classic White Sandwich Bread

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 heaping tablespoon honey
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons soft butter
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk granules

Mix all of the ingredients in the order listed, and mix and knead — by hand, or using a stand mixer — to make a smooth dough. It won't be particularly soft nor stiff; it should be smooth and feel bouncy and elastic under your hands.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or other container. Cover it, and let it rise at room temperature until it's very puffy, 1 to 2 hours.
Gently deflate the dough, and shape it into a fat 9" log. Place it in a lightly greased 9" x 5" loaf pan.
Cover the pan, and let the dough rise for 60 to 90 minutes, till it's crowned 1" to 1 1/2" over the rim of the pan. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bake the bread for 20 minutes. Tent it lightly with aluminum foil, and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, till it's golden brown. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will read 195°F to 200°F.
Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out onto a rack to cool. When completely cool, wrap in plastic, and store at room temperature.
Yield: 1 large loaf, about 18 servings.

16 comments:

  1. What a lovely loaf of bread. There's nothing as delicious as a good loaf of bread. I'm intimidated by yeast and don't try to make bread very often though.
    Sam

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    1. Thanks, Sam. I'll keep at it. When I have a few in a row, then I'll really feel confident!

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  2. This bread looks so soft and fluffy, I need to try it :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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    1. Soft and fluffy is what I was going for . . . YAY!

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  3. I love baking bread. I don't find it difficult, but if it makes you feel better, I have issues with pie dough (but I love baking pies - ugly as they are). I just wish I had the TIME to bake bread. I made it all the time in my teens and early twenties. I made wholewheat bread and foccaccia and cinnamon rolls. I think the past 10 years I made brioche once and cinnamon rolls once. It's so hard to be home for all of those risings! I long to see if I can still make a loaf of bread. Make another one for me!

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    1. A loaf is rising right now . . . we shall see. About the pie dough, I've yet to try pie crust with vodka. Foolproof, they say. We shall see about that, too. You try for me.

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  4. For someone who is intimidated by yeast, you've done a great job on this loaf! I'm a bit nervous of bread and tend to read about it more than bake it - my bread heros are Dan Lepard and to a lesser extent, Paul Hollywood. Looking forward to hearing about your adventures with bread as you and your student discover the secrets of this tricky but extremely rewarding area of baking.

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    1. I will explore your bread heroes, Hester. In my need for bread education, I also took "The Bread Bible" to bed with me. Good read, but for less timid bread bakers than I. I'll keep plugging away!

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  5. Ain't homemade bread the BEST?! I love the soft and smooth crumb of your bread.

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    1. I agree, Angie, it's great, just not predictable in my hands, anyhow!

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  6. I used to make bread all the time but for whatever reason I haven't done so in years, that is until a few nights ago. The result was doughy and dense and I had to ask myself what happened to my bedmaking skills. It must have been the recipe!

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    1. I want to make bread making a habit, Linda. Want to make a pact?

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  7. That is a nice loaf of bread Rosemary…great job!

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    1. I was tickled to see how pretty it was, more delighted that it tasted good. Now, if only I can repeat the feat, Karen!

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  8. Your bread looks gorgeous. (And for the record, pie crust intimidates me big time!)

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I realize you don't have to take the time to comment . . . but it makes my day! So glad you decided to stay.