Adventures in Bread Baking

Sunday, November 22, 2009

We received a bread maker as a wedding gift and this weekend I insisted on making a loaf of bread. I decided to start simple, with a loaf of basic white bread. How hard can it be, I wondered. Throw the ingredients in the breadmaker and whooooosh! it spits out a loaf of bread. Riiiight?

Yesterday we purchased a few ingredients needed for The Baking--primarily flour and yeast--both pretty essential to the breadmaking process, according to word on the street from my baking homeboys. We also needed nonfat powdered milk, which I had never heard of before, but OK. It's in the recipe so it must be in the store, I figured.

So we roll on over to Supastore (I call it that cause it's extra fly) to pick up the ingredients. First and foremost I freaked out about the flour. Did you know there are not one, not two, but MANY kinds of flour? I always buy all-purpose flour, or whole wheat if I'm feeling like tricking myself into believing my baking is healthy. But here I was faced with a wall of flour choices and no idea what to do. I took a real leap of faith and selected the flour labeled BEST FOR BREAD. Wild risk.

Then, it was time to purchase yeast. Again, a multitude of yeasts assaulted my eyes. I pulled out my cell to call Momma Bear because that's what I do when I have a baking emergency. I don't know how many times I've called my mother from the aisles of Supastore wondering how to make meringues or pizza dough or roast beef or Aunt Jemima knows what else.

Then I saw a little brown Fleischmann's Yeast jar with the label that read "FOR BREAD MACHINES". I hung up on my parents without saying hello. Ha! Powdered milk time...did you know that a powdered dairy product exists which you mix with water and then drink the mixture like milk? Does this make anyone else retch with phantom vom?

Fast forward to this afternoon (because after coming home from the grocery store at 10pm last night, we senior citizens were pretty zonked and crawled into our duvet cave like sleepy moles. Exciting night out and all) when I started The Baking.

Problem #1: the water was supposed to be between 20-32 degrees. Not sure about you chefs and chefettes but I don't keep a water thermometer in my kitchen for those water fever emergencies. I winged it.

Problem #2: I couldn't get the lid of the salt shaker to get out 3/4 of a teaspoon of the precious white crystals which would make or break my loaf. Burly Peter was too busy playing Duty Calls Let's Blow Up Random Shit Volume Two chopping wood and doing other useful things to open it for me, and we didn't have any spare salt in the kitchen to dip into, so I shook salt in the general direction of the teaspoon over the sink until enough had made its way into the spoon to suffice (meanwhile there's a mountain of salt accumulating in the sink).

I closed the lid of the bread machine with a little prayer and came back an hour later to check on its progress. To be honest, I was worried. There was a little doughy ball at the bottom of the pan, like a tennis ball in size, just sitting there. I assumed my water had been too hot and killed the yeast. I went for my run and for probably six of my 10-plus kilometres berated myself for being too stupid to bake bread successfully IN A BREAD MAKER and how this means I'm going to be a horrible mother and a sucky wife.

Back home (51 minutes later--GOOD TIME ON THE RUN, HUH!) I checked the bread again. It looked significantly puffier. Positive sign.

At this point, I won't drag this out for you any longer and keep you hanging on the edge of your seats wondering how the bread turned out. I know you're all going to skip to the end of the story, story ruiners.

SPOILER ALERT: It was awesome! The crust was perfectly crispy and the bread had a soft, light texture. It actually tastes and looks like bakery bread. We enjoyed our bread with some autumn vegetable soup and it was a tasty and simple meal to round out our weekend.

Step one of housewife transformation complete!

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  1. I want a breadmaker now.

    You've convinced me with your supafly baking skillz

  2. Holy cow! You had me sooo nervous! I once inherited an old bread maker, and went straight for the tough recipe ... some sort of garlic and herb and parmesan bread. Sounds great, eh? Yeah, well it actually tasted OK, but was the size of a saltine cracker. Never Again!

    May your transformation continue!! :-)

  3. FB--GET ONE!! But be prepared to eat the bread right away because it dries out like whoa after one day. Also, the startup costs are high ;) (machine, powdered milk=$6+/bag, yeast is another $6ish, flour same) but then you can make dozens of loaves.

    Em--Haha that's what I was afraid would happen :) I started with the most basic recipe of all. Soon I'll tackle whole wheat!