Wednesday, March 11, 2009

B is For…

Bread

Baking bread is one of those things I talked about wanting to do for years and years before I tried it for the first time. And, like knitting, it has become a journey, an art, a frustration at times, and something I love to do.

Bread baking is like most other things in life: you can learn the basics in an afternoon and spend the rest of your life seeking after perfection. It’s all part of the process.

B-01
Gather your ingredients…

My Kitchen Aid Professional Stand Mixer has pride of place on my counter. Truly one of the best investments I’ve ever made, if I treat it right my nieces children will be quarreling over it when I die.

B-03
Measure carefully…

B-04
Proof the yeast…

This step is mostly optional, but I keep doing it because it’s just so cool to come back after ten minutes to see that ¼ cup of water, a tablespoon of yeast and a pinch of sugar have bubbled up like this. It’s the little things that keep me entertained!

B-05
Stand mixer at work…

You can see the motion in this picture, but you can’t hear the wonderful humming. Perhaps I should make some video someday…

B-06
Finish by hand…

There’s a saying in French, “Il faut mettre la main à la pâte.” It translates to “You must put your hand to the dough.” I use this step to check if the dough has the right texture, to dither a bit over whether it needs more flour… but mostly I like the way it feels. This particular dough has an amazingly silky texture, and it’s a joy to work with.

B-07
Ready for first rise…

This is when I go off and knit for about ninety minutes. Cover the dough, put it someplace warm, and just leave it alone. This is when the magic really happens, and it can’t be rushed.

B-08
Ready for second rise…

Well, would you just look at that! Even after several years, the transformation still makes me smile.

B-10
Ready to bake…

Glazed with egg wash and sprinkled with poppy seeds, it’s ready to bake. The house will smell incredible, I’ll be peeking through the oven window to see how high it got, and there will be more knitting time while I wait.

B-11
Success…

One of the toughest things about baking my own bread is letting it cool before I cut it!

I’m so glad that I started baking my own bread. Nothing I’ve bought in a store comes even remotely close to tasting as good, and I love feeling connected to centuries of people who have done the same thing with the same ingredients.

Just like with knitting.

11 comments:

Stiney said...

I'm guessing that was sandwich bread? The only bread I've made/helped make has been simple loaves--water, flour, yeast, salt.

Rose Red said...

Mmmm, fresh bread - yum! I have a bread machine, so miss out on the whole completely handmade experience. Must try it from scratch again.

I love my kitchenaid too - best kitchen appliance ever! (well, maybe after the dishwasher...)

lilypily said...

Oh you make me want to go straight out to buy yeast and make some bread of my own. I can almost smell it!! It looks delicious. Actually you know the only thing that holds me back from baking my own is that I know how little control I have when it comes to beaufiful freshly made bread. I'd be the size of a house if I started making bread. Some things are far more dangerous than chocolate!

TinkerTots said...

How do you like the crank-down bowl on your mixer? I have one of the older hinge-tops (just like my mom had) but it's seen a lot of use (not just from me) and I think the poor motor is going to die. When mixing anything heftier than whipping cream it goes eerrrRRRrrrrr-eeeerrrRRRrrrrr-eeeerrrRRRrrr.... not a comforting sound!

I'm just not sure what to get next. Stick with the type I've already got, or go with the different bowl!

And bread is freakin' awesome. I have a fabulous honey-dinner-roll recipe that is just to die for.

Donna Lee said...

When my girls were small and I stayed at home, I baked all of our bread. Twice a week I baked 2 loaves and there were never any leftovers. I miss those days. I rely heavily on the bread machine these days but I still like to get my hands in the dough and often use the machine set on "dough" so I can put my hands in it. And I think my 25 yr old kitchenaid mixer is the best investment I've made, except for maybe my husband.

Shan said...

Oh my goodness, that is just dreamy. Poppyseeds - genius idea. That would keep the kids away from it, and I could have it all to myself.

TinkingBell said...

YUM!

That's all

YUM!

Kate_knits_a_bit said...

Oh, a Kitchen Aid! I am in deep Envy. (It would have been Deep Deep Envy if your machine was red)
I have a Kenwood, and while a great machine, the dratted thing is NOISY!!!!!
Enjoy your bread :>

Alwen said...

There's nothing like coming into a house that smells of just-baked bread (even if I'm the one baking it).

Kathleen Taylor said...

ooooohhhhh. I can smell it from here.

fefferknits said...

Hey, what book is that? I've finally found KA flour in the store, and I'm all geared up to start making good bread. :) Now I need some yummy recipes!