Category Archives: Cooking and Baking

Determined to bake my own bread

This is my sixth attempt at homemade bread. Sixth! I know bread baking is something that is supposed to take a long time (lifetime?) to master, but… but… why?

Well. Let me back up because I believe have a good reason to be frustrated.

Sam’s mom, Debi, gave me a KitchenAid Mixer for my birthday back in March (…I know. So nice!). Of course, I immediately made a loaf of white sandwich bread. And of course, it turned out perfectly.

Bread baking is EASY, I thought.

The thing was, it was white sandwich bread: yummy, but nothing special. So then I got very snooty about the whole thing and tried making whole wheat sandwich bread.

Fail.

So then, I tried making Challah.

Major brick-like fail.

So then I tried to make Artisan Bread.

1 inch tall: fail.

Then I tried some sort of free-form loaf.

Too much wine + novice baking = Fail!

Although I did get increasingly discouraged each time, I was always eventually motivated to try again. First, because I bought a new cookbook. Then, because I started to read a delightful novel called, The Baker’s Apprentice. Then I was given another cookbook, and finally, because I read this interesting blog post entitled “October Unprocessed,” (as featured on Grist) about a group of people challenging themselves to go a whole month with no processed foods. If you’ve read this blog from the beginning, you’ll know that I love stuff like that. I just love the idea of being self sufficient and doing awesome things like regularly having homemade bread.

So, how’d attempt five go?

At first, not so good. I may or may not (leaning toward may)  have added a full cup of extra flour. I’m still not sure. Anyway, I wouldn’t call this (picture at left), “wet and loose enough to conform to the shape of the container,” as the recipe calls for. (Not at all.)

But, now that I am accustomed to the idea of failed baking, I continued with very little to lose.

By this afternoon, the dough was much easier to work with after being refrigerated all day. This dough (photo right) seemed much more promising. (And yes, “seem” is really all I have to go off of.)

So, after shaping it I let it rise for 40 minutes (while I went for a delightful rain-run), popped it in the oven and voila: MASTERPIECE!

I am just so happy.

I also read that you can store the same dough for up to 14 days (covered in the fridge), to have fresh bread whenever you want with just 5 minutes of preparation time. I love this!

Did I mention how happy I am?

I found the recipe I used online (at the bottom of the page – the first few pages in this article are the “5 minutes a day” theory.) To novice and frustrated bread bakers – I highly recommend this recipe.

Good luck!

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