Sunday, January 10, 2010

No knead

So one of my missions this year was to learn to do new fun things, like baking. That was when I thought baking was fun. Today I learned that baking is hard. Armed with my trusty Bread Bible and brand new bread loaf pan, I figured I could knock out a couple of bread recipes, no problemo. I started with a basic loaf of white bread. I followed the instructions to the letter. I did try to take the short cut and use my big electric mixer. My Bible said it was okay to use, but advised making it by hand the first time so I could feel what the dough was like at each stage. Mostly I chose to use the electric mixer because I didn't have a wooden spoon and the Bible specifically said I needed to mix with a wooden spoon. I was afraid that if I used a spatula or a plastic spoon it would cause a chemical reaction and my kitchen would blow up. So I used the mixer, followed the instructions....and this is what happened.
Yep, that's half the dough in the bowl...flaky and floury...and the other half in a stiff ball.
Bread: Fail

Well, shoot. That didn't go as planned. But I trashed the dough, regrouped, bought a wooden spoon and eventually accomplished my mission. In the process here is what I learned:

1. Breadmaking is personal. The instructions are nothing more than a have to tailor them to your kitchen and your ingredients and you perception. This was the cause of the disastrous first dough. I added cups and cups of flour to match what the recipe called for....and ended up with a floury mess.
2. You really have to get a feel for the dough. The Bible really meant it when it said that its important to make your first batch of bread by hand so you can feel the dough at each stage. When I made my second batch of dough, it felt right after adding only 3/4 of the amount of flour the recipe called for, so I stopped there....and it worked just fine. That just reiterates the first point....the instructions are the guide, but the dough itself is more instructive when it comes to what needs to be added.
3. Making bread takes patience. You finish one process and think you are done, but then you have to let it rise. Then you think you are done, but you have to punch it down and shape it. Then you think you are done, but you have to let it rise again. I kept thinking, "when it is time to put the damn loaf in the oven?!?" I really should have added 'patience' to my resolution dance, oh well.
4. Bread loaves are like your babies. You made them with love...and will look at them adoringly. Even when they are ugly (although I wouldn't know how this feels because I have beautiful babies...and beautiful bread)

So now, the a picture montage:
All my equipment...prepped and ready, with such high hopes...before they were dashed by the stinking electric mixer.

Oh yeah, I forgot. Another step to wait on. Proofing the yeast. It looks gross and it smells like stale beer, but I guess thats a good thing for bread.

Kneading my dough. I liked this part. The book describes how you need to get your whole body into it. You know, show it who's boss.

My white bread after it rose for 2 hours. I had to give it a little poke to make sure it had risen. I mean, I could tell it had risen because it was much bigger than when I put it in the bowl the first time, but the Bible said give it a poke, so I gave it a poke.

My french loaves....aren't they gorgeous! Don't mind the lumpy one in the back...

My white Mountain bread. I don't know what makes it Mountain bread, but that's what it is called. Oh, and that is my new loaf pan. Its pretty too.
The test slices. With butter and honey. This is why I have to have my Body for Life "free day" on bread making day. Otherwise, I would never be able to sample the bread the way it is meant to be sampled....with loads of honey and butter.
See, Rileigh thinks its so good it is making her a little crazy.

Oh, and this one is just for fun:
Addison was helping me bake and asked me to take her picture. This is how she posed. Weirdo. See, I told you my children are beautiful.


  1. It all looks so pretty! I love the photos! Where did you get the pretty new bread pan?

  2. It looks fantastic. Thanks for the comment on my blog. If you really are going to learn how to knit, keep me posted. I'd love to help you with questions (assuming I know the answer....)I just picked up a book at Hobby Lobby and went from there. It will guide you through all the basics. One of my friends is always looking on you tube for video tutorials.