Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Adventures in Breadmaking

I have not left the house except to walk to the post office or the Spangle Market for over a week. It's not that I can't go to town. Spokane, despite three feet of snow, is navigable. No, I am simply enjoying being a homebody. Spending two days a week working at the church has made me appreciate my time at home in a whole new way. I love my job, but I am rejuvenated when I can putter around the house, not talking to anyone. Being at home stimulates my creativity and inspires me to try new things.

Yesterday I ventured into the world of bread-making. I don't think I have ever made bread before, so this was a first. It all started because I put a beef stew on the stove to cook all day, and I thought it would be nice to have some yummy bread to go with the stew. I could have driven to town and bought a loaf, but that would not have been as much of an adventure as making it myself. Besides, we didn't have any other plans, so it was a good day to sit around and wait for bread to rise. In fact, the reason I never made bread before is because I usually think of it twenty minutes before I want to eat it, and bread can't be made in twenty minutes. Bread making is a long-term commitment.

I looked up a recipe on the Internet, and went to work. Well, mostly I poured stuff into my KitchenAid mixer and let the dough hook do all the work. I LOVE my KitchenAid mixer. I used to think that only people who loved to bake bought KitchenAid mixers. I bought mine because it was black, and it would look good in my kitchen. What I have discovered is that I may have had it backwards. Perhaps the reality is that people who have KitchenAid mixers love to bake. I sure enjoy baking much more now that I have one. It turns out that the only thing I don't like about my mixer is that it is black (oh the irony!) and therefore shows every speck of flour, sugar, and baking powder that gets on it. I digress.

So after my mixer did its part, I had to knead the dough "until it was smooth and elastic." Well, it looked "smooth and elastic" after like, three seconds, but the instructions said this should take 6-8 minutes. Given my lack of bread making experience, I assumed that I had no idea what "smooth and elastic" looked like, and I kneaded the dough for six minutes. I did it just like Caroline Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie. She was my only frame of reference because Rachel Ray's 30-Minute Meals never include homemade bread, and that is the only cooking show I get since I don't have cable. Again, I digress.

After kneading the dough it had to rise for an hour and a half, then get punched down (that was fun) and rise for another 30 minutes. I took advantage of the "Proof" setting on my oven, which keeps the oven at a temperature that is perfect for dough that needs to rise. This was especially handy since my house is a little on the cool side given the sub-zero temperatures outside. Am I digressing?

Anyways, after the second rising (?) raising(?)--whatever--I got to split the dough apart, and braid it. Then it had to rise AGAIN. Why in the world does bread dough need to rise THREE times? Even Jesus only had to do it once! Holy mackerel, bread-making is SUCH a high-maintenance-long-term-relationship! Finally, after brushing the bread with an egg yolk, I baked it.

Here is the result:

It tasted as good as it looks. Call me crazy, but I think I might make more today!


  1. It looks wonderful! I give you a blue ribbon. Homemade bread adds a special scent to the kitchen and a meal that is unequaled.

  2. Caroline Ingalls could not have done it any better- Brava!