Friday, May 8, 2009

Simple pleasures

There is nothing more simple, pure, or lovely than the smell of freshly baked bread. I'm pretty sure the smell of freshly baked bread takes anyone back to their youth. For me it reminds me of grandma's fresh bread, cooling outside the oven. I loved getting a huge slice and spreading peanut butter on the warm bread.
I, like any other foodie, get great pleasure out of cooking a good meal. But there is something different with bread. It isn't mixing and matching ingredients to make a good meal; there's something more. It's the satisfaction you get out of actually creating something. I don't have a KitchenAid stand mixer--yet!--so the entire process is manual. Mixing, kneeding, shaping, etc. Start to finish my hands create and gently form the bread. Kneeding itself takes a good 10-15 minutes to turn a slightly crumbly mixture into a smooth, soft ball. I made two wheat loaves this particular night; one in a typical bread pan, the other in a cake pan because that's all I had!
I love, love, LOVE this bread. *secret* shh.... most bread recipes call for a package of yeast. Try cutting back and only using one teaspoon. You still get 2 good rises out of the dough, plus the end result is a gorgeous dense bread. More yeast would provide an airier, lighter bread, but using less gives you a chewy dense loaf. Just look below-- no holes!Now I'm digging through the archives of pictures to the very first time I made bread. Man was I proud. I never EVER thought my first attempt at bread making would be successful.
I used white bread flour the first time around. Yea, and that whole crazy idea to cool the bread after baking? Didn't happen. Nope, didn't stand a chance. I cut into that loaf so fast and smeared butter on a thick slice. Heaven, I swear.

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