Cold doesn't quite capture what it feels like here in Michigan. It's freezing out there! So I am baking bread. The first loaves of the year, actually. This way I get to hang out in my warm kitchen surrounded by yummy smells.
Last year was the first time I had ever made bread. I had been kind of scared of baking bread. It just seemed like something that was way beyond me. My mother assured me I had no reason to fear baking bread so finally, last winter, I did it. And, it worked! I made bread! It wasn't scary, it was actually kinda fun. And, relaxing.
What did I learn? One of my concerns was how long it takes to make bread. It is a long process but it isn't that you are constantly working on it for 3 hours. Your actual work time is probably about a half hour. The "long" part is the three periods of waiting: the first rise, the second rise and the baking. During those times I just get on with my day; laundry, lunch, make art, whatever. All while being surround by the smell of bread baking. I also discovered a speedy wheat bread recipe and a beer bread recipe that takes all of an hour to make. Yum!
Another concern was where to put my dough for it to rise. This time of year, in this lovely, old house of mine, there isn't a warm, moist spot to be found. Well, when in doubt, look at your cookbook. I learned that all I needed to do was put a pan of boiling water on the bottom rack in my oven and the dough on the top rack. Moist and warm.
I was also concerned about kneading the dough. How? How long? Again, look in your cookbook. My cookbook has great "tips" on how and why to do different things. Plus, I found that it is true what I've heard about the process of kneading dough. It's very relaxing. And, who doesn't need to be relaxed a little?
If you've never tried making bread, I highly recommend it. There are lots of great recipes out there. It's much less expensive, too. Have you noticed the price of bread? To help tempt you further, here are some pictures:
|White Bread recipe in my handy-dandy cooking/baking notebook.|
|Wet ingredients, getting very warm.|
|All together now.|
|After two rises and ready for the oven.|
|Fresh from the oven. I brushed the top with butter.|
|One last look....Isn't it pretty? You should smell it!|