Thursday, January 19, 2012

"A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou." --Omar Khayyam

I have also seen this quote with the jug-o-wine listed first. Either way, it is all I need for a good meal. Bread, wine, and someone to share with.

Last year I decided that I wanted to learn how to make really good bread from scratch. And I want to make it often. Whole Wheat, Whole Grain, Sourdough, Rosemary, Cheddar, Challah.....And I never even made one loaf. Not one. So today is the day. I need fresh bread in my house and in my mouth. The smell of baking bread is the most comforting smell in the world. The taste of bread is the most comforting taste in the world. And Mama needs a little comfort right about now.

I dropped the kids off at school and came home to get baking and this is what I found. It is from my Sunshine Girl. She leaves note all over the house. They make my day! The Bug will occasionally leave affectionate notes too. Love those!

The dough is supposed to be rising as I type this. But after 60 minutes, it isn't. So I looked up some possible solutions to this dilemma. One was to put it in a slightly warm oven. I transferred the bowl to the radiator, hoping it would help. Here are before-the-radiator and after-30 -minutes-on-the-radiator pictures. I am not sure if I am seeing a difference or if it is just wishful thinking.

A lot of time has come and gone and it finally rose a bit. So I am now on to the next step of forming it into a loaf, putting it into a well oiled loaf pan and letting it rise again. This loaf it itty bitty! I am not sure if it is supposed to be this small or if I ate too much dough. A piece here and there would not conform to the overall dough blob, so I ate them. More and more pieces popped up. I ate more. And more. I am feeling a bit stuffed now and not sure if I can hit the treadmill today. Here it is, seeming lost and small, and you can see all the flaps of dough I didn't eat.

The Inspector.

It puffed up a bit, so into the oven it goes! 40 minutes uncovered, 20 minutes covered. FINGERS CROSSED!!!

The moment of truth.

(making guacamole in the background)
I cut right into it. It tastes pretty good! Kinda dense. I like bread dense and I like it airy. I like it hot and cold. I like it fresh and I like it stale, so it is hard for me to be objective about it.
Sunshine Girl says, "It's the best whole whole wheat bread I have ever had, but you know I like sourdough."
The Bug says, "Yummmmm! It is good! I love this bread! It is kick butt bread!"
The Birdman, being more polished than normal, as he knew he was making it into the blog, says "A hearty, wheat bread that would compliment a bowl of soup."

Overall, I would call this a success with room for improvement. I want to make it less loaf, more round and welcoming. I want to try buckwheat honey instead of clover honey. I want it to rise more. I want to do so many things but this is a good place to start. I will make it again and again this same way over the next few weeks and see if I can do better with this particular recipe before I go getting fancy. But YAY! I made EDIBLE bread!!!

Do you have any nuggets of Bread Wisdom to share? What is your favorite bread? What kind of foods do you make really well? What foods have you completely botched?


Elysian Studios said...

I had the same urge the other day! I too LOVE fresh bread and I have yeast in the pantry with the intention of using it...but the recipe I found the other day called for 18 hrs rising!! That wasn't happening.

I find that if I put anything that needs to rise in my oven (turned off), that it will yeast creates its own heat, so the enclosed environment of the oven helps! When we first got married we had a bread maker, and I used that thing all the time. I stopped making it eventually, though, and I got rid of the bread maker :-(

Happy baking (I wish my family wrote me little sweet notes! But they are boys...they don't get it!)

Unknown said...

What a cute pup you have, mine would be the same way and hoping for some morsels of that fresh baked bread. I have never made fresh bread but I did try making cinnamon buns from scratch my grandmothers recipe that she gave me off the top of her head. So it has been hit or miss and I find that using yeast has been one of the tricky-est things I have every worked with. I find that I am a better cook then a baker, I find that it is like chemistry and if you don't measure right everything it can flop.

Some of my best dishes are Shepard's pie, ham & chicken lasagna, taco casserole. Family favorites. I love to cook but I find that these days I have not done as much, I am hoping to start and make more healthy meals.

My girls aren't writing notes yet, my youngest has been telling me everyday how beautiful I am and how much she loves me. Melts my heart.

Happy baking!!

Bits of Learning said...

The bread looks delicious!!

I tried to make beer bread a few months back and after taking a bite the whole thing went into the garbage...I won't even feed it to our dog!

I am experimenting with making southern style chicken and dumplings tomorrow... I figure it's a good dish to go with the snow we are suppose to be getting. I will let you know how it turns out!

Bobbie said...

I may have been the only person on the planet who didn't know this before making my first loaf of bread (granted, it was in a bread machine because I'm not nearly brave enough to do it the way you did), but there is such a thing as bread flour, which is different from all-purpose flour. All purpose flour makes a big, lumpy, solid lump o' bread. And sadly, yes, I do know this from personal experience...

Tracey said...

Looks like it would be great with a bowl of soup! Great work!

My mom makes fantastic bread, and she says a warm house is really important because you don't want the yeast to get a draft: it won't work as well. I put my bowl directly over the vent on my stove while I'm baking something else and that gets really 'fast' results: 40-60 minutes rising time. It can go too long though and start to bake :)I also put a cloth cover. You might have just had a plastic cover on to take the photo, but I recommend a doubled towel, again to protect from the draft. Oh and start with room temp yeast and mix with 1 Tbsp sugar (or other food) really helps the yeast get big at the beginning and then it supposed to generate it's own heat. But there are so many things that could go wrong, it really is an artform! good luck in your baking endeavours! :D

Unknown said...

LMAO!! Yeast & rising are the most terrifying parts of bread-making for me. Often it's either dead yeast outta the packet (out of date), or more likely, I've killed it with water or rising environment that's either too cool or too hot. You'll have to get in touch with The Partner. He says my fears are baseless so long as you make certain you're starting with yeast that's in date.

I'm recalling a spring morning in college (remember The House?) when we made 6 loaves of bread - 3 white, 3 whole wheat. We were planning on heading down to The Mall for a little frisbee football. On our way out the door we ate two entire loaves hot out of the oven with about half a pound of butter soaking into the warm, spongy wholesomeness of it all. Ah, to have that metabolism again!

Keep at it! Good things will come. It's bread after all. How could it not??

Alicia said...

We've been making our own bread for years now. First we would use the breadmachine... then we decided to just use the breadmachine to do the heavy work for us, and we bake it in the oven, on a cookie sheet.

The way we make it now is to prepare the sourdough before putting everything in the machine, that way we always have the best rise. And we don't use bread flour, I buy a 20lbs bag of ordinary flour from Costco :)

Let me know if you'd like the recipe.

Leslie Todd said...

The bread looks delicious! It makes me hungry just reading the post.

When I baked bread I got a batch of yeast that didn't rise, even though it was still in date. So always buy the freshest yeast you can find. You can store it in the fridge, but let it come to room temperature before using.

Sweet Freedom said...

Looks yummy! My dog woukd have scarfed it right out of that pan!