Thursday, August 14, 2008
One of my most favorite things in the whole world is the smell of freshly baked bread. It is super healing. Sometimes its intimidating whether your mom made it the best but didn't teach you and so you are worried you can't reproduce her perfect loaf, or you have never had homemade bread and don't even buy yeast. To me, baking bread is one of those hallmark skills that every industrious woman should have, you know, like crossing the plains, making all of your own clothes and churning butter. I have learned over the years that the woman I am does not have to be that particular woman but my love of homemade bread has not waned. I will not offer my perfect recipe here. I will share with you some tutorials from other sites and some tips that were like moments of inspiration. But the real secret to making your own bread is practice, and failure, and practicing again. So, if you really want to make your own bread start with trying a couple of loaves every week for a month. By the end, of the month you will have perfected your family favorite and will be a pro.
This recipe, Susan's White Bread, has good photographs and some explanation of the process of bread baking. It is part of a site called: A Year In Bread and the whole site has wonderful recipes and information.
This little grandma is so cute and a little weird (my favorite combination)! This is a great video on how to work a really simple bread. She talks about the pleasure of kneading the bread and making something new. She's right, its very rewarding.
This is part 2:
Now, to my limited wisdom. One of the biggest mistakes I made the first few times I made bread was that I kept adding flour, buckets and buckets of flour. Your dough will become brickish if you add too much. So, after practicing a bit I realized I just very lightly dust my hands and my work surface so that I can keep kneading. Notice in the videos that the woman just kept working the dough. It takes 10 or 15 minutes by hand or by mixer. Another thing the woman in the video does is a triple rise. I might try this the next time. I only let rise in the bowl once before I shape it but I have read that the longer the rise time the more fluffy and light your bread will be. I think the triple rise would be helpful too those first few times to give the ingredients more time to work their magic. I add powdered milk to my bread and I will usually add gluten or a dough enhancer. These products can be found in the baking section of most grocery stores and they are particularly helpful when you are a beginner. I also like the texture of the bread with enhancers. Once you get a basic understanding of what good dough feels and smells like then you can add a whole host of items to your repertoire. I can make rolls, cinnamon rolls, pizza, crackers, breadsticks, and many other items now that I understand the process. I will these items to the bread basics section as we go.
This whole wheat recipe looks fantastic. I am going to try it this week and will let you all know how it turns out. I prefer whole wheat and rarely make a straight white bread.
Simple Whole Wheat Bread