Monday, March 09, 2015

Me--the Bread Baker

I am a bread baker and I've earned that title the hard way: bad bread. Rock hard bread. Bread that didn't rise. Bread that spread all over the cookie sheet instead of staying in nice little knots. Bread that just didn't taste like… bread.

When I was a little girl and wanted the crusts cut from my bread, my mother wouldn't do it. Now, was she lazy? Stubborn? Perhaps she didn't find that step in the sandwich process warranted. What she said was: That's where the vitamins are. Eat the crusts.

I hate to admit to being a bit slow, but I was grown and making bread before I realized the nonsense of this. (As an aside, this can stand up to her other dictum: Don't feed the cat ham. That one kind of made sense, after all the cat didn't need all that salt, but my husband got tired of hearing it and asked the vet if it were so. Her succinct answer? Only if the cat kept kosher. My mother's credibility continued to slip.)

I really got rolling on the bread baking bandwagon in the '80s, quite often having bread fresh from the oven when my sons got home from school. Butter, honey… it would hold us until supper. I used one book in particular, The Red Star Centennial Bread Sampler. 1981 edition, this one is available from Canada. Says it's in good condition. Cannot say the same for mine. Its condition could best be described as "loved."

I stopped using it when I found other go-to recipes, but recently I've been bored with them, so I've ventured back. And things have changed! I was reading the basics (never hurts to go back to the basics) and found out there was a flour available some places called bread flour. Of course, it is widely available now and is all I've used for loaf bread for many years. There were notes on compressed yeast and I haven't seen that in a while, but perhaps my stores just don't carry it. Shortening was listed as an ingredient in the recipe I chose to tinker with today and I haven't had that in the house in years. On the other hand, subbing butter may not have been a good idea but I won't know for an hour or two yet.

What I did learn from this wonderful book and still use and, except in rare instances change every yeast bread recipe to, is the method of putting the yeast in with the dry and adding hotter liquids instead of plumping up the yeast in milder water first. Do not like that extra step. Will avoid.

I love to make bread, but there is one thing better: sharing it. The one I've got rising now should make 4 loaves. What a treat!


At 7:50 AM CDT, Blogger Rhobin Lee Courtright said...

Kay, I love to bake bread, too. I could almost smell the heavenly aroma of the loaves pictured.


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