Bread Adventures

How the story began…

My parents took the family to Norway to connect with our roots and meet up with my brother for Christmas, who had been studying abroad there. On this trip I became keenly aware that the rest of the world takes care of their staple food sustainably, not industrially, like America.. SO it was high time I learn how to bake my own bread. In addition, my husband cannot have salt (sodium), therefore had been excluded from enjoying delicious bread for almost 4 years. Another reason was that my wonderful mother (recognizing the earlier fact) had given us a bread machine, which had been packed away collecting dust for 2 years. It was time to pull it out and get started. From machine, to mixer, to countertop, I have learned how to bake bread.

The Bread Machine…

This was really easy! All I had to do was place the ingredients in, liquids followed by dry ingredients, choose the setting and press the start button. It was pretty silly that I hadn’t done it sooner. The first times I let the machine do all the making from mixing to kneading to baking. But then I soon discovered the dough setting. This one was awesome because when I baked the bread in the oven it had more room to rise and just tasted better. With this setting I could make larger loaves or 2 loaves instead of one. I made pizza dough and cinnamon rolls. This went on for about a year. Some recipes were good, like hawaiian bread, basic white bread, potato bread, cinnamon raisin bread, jalapeno cheese bread. Others didn’t turn out so well, like honey whole wheat. I learned about rising temperature, that it couldn’t be too hot or too cold and the dough didn’t like changing temperatures. The very first time I baked a loaf in the oven instead of the bread machine, it overflowed from the loaf pan. This is when I discovered that I needed a 2-pound loaf pan. It looks so funny, but it tasted yummy. So maybe presentation isn’t the most important.

my first attempt baking in the oven

The Mixer…

My husband gave me a KitchenAid mixer for Christmas. I could now make 3 loaves in one bowl. Amazing. Using the dough hook to mix and knead has been awesome. I read somewhere to use hot water (boiled) to regulate the temperature during rising. I place some hot water in a bowl, then place the bowl with the dough on top, so that the steam rises and warms the bottom of the bowl that is holding the dough. This has worked like a charm. Also using an instant-read thermometer is invaluable because I can always see if it’s the right temperature in the bowl while the dough is rising. I have made it a habit of bread-making each weekend for each week’s bread. After using the mixer instead of the bread machine, it is hard to believe that people who own them haven’t tried it. I’m not sure if I would have made it to the next step without the mixer in between. Maybe, maybe not.

Countertop..

If I was given some flour, water, yeast, sugar and oil of some sort I would be able to mix up a loaf of bread. I ventured onto the countertop because I wanted to teach others how to make bread and how could one possibly do so when people don’t all have fancy tools like bread machines and mixers. Most have spoons and hands for mixing tools. Also, I was so close, I might as well take the next step. First I looked for videos online that showed how to knead bread. It looked easy enough. So I did the mixing with a wooden spoon until it got too difficult and then I dumped my dough onto a flour-coated countertop and began the kneading, which was mainly playing with the dough. Pulling it a bit from the edge and pushing it down into the middle until I had a ball of dough was how it went. What the videos did not show and any readings I had done had failed to mention was how sticky dough might be, also that when egg or milk is in it, it’s even stickier. I learned that with some recipes I just needed to continue dusting everything with flour, whereas with others I just needed a few drops of vegetable oil to keep from sticking to everything. One thing that I found was that my bread ended up better looking when I did all the work by hand. I also found that I could make sure all of the ingredients were evenly distributed when I did all the work by hand. The mixer is still fantastic but I am proud knowing I can bake without all the fancy tools.

Teaching Teenagers…

Yes, believe it or not, a week ago today (Feb. 2010) I attempted to teach teenagers how to bake bread. I placed all of the ingredients and tools on the table so it was ready. They were fantastic. I typed up a few recipes that had worked the best, talked through the directions as they measured, poured, and mixed. There was flour all over the place but in the end they made some pretty delicious bread.

Teaching a 2 and 4 year old…

So this was really fun! I did all of the measuring, but they did the mixing, kneading and shaping. They wanted to keep on playing with the dough, but I reminded them that we couldn’t eat it until it was cooked. The 2-year-old had seen me roll up dough for a loaf of bread, so after she had patted it out like a (thick) pancake, she started rolling it up perfectly. She was so quick! We were putting raisins in so I stopped her and gave her the raisins to squish into the dough. They went down for a nap, and after it had risen enough I baked it in the oven so when nap time was over the bread was ready! Both were proud of what they had made. Overall it was a success, I will do it again for sure.

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3 responses to “Bread Adventures

  1. Sarah

    The picture… hilarious! Looks like something I’d do.

  2. Sarabeth

    Hailey, I enjoyed reading about your breadmaking journey. I have just tried my bread machine, and hope to venture out more like you! The bread you made for us was sooo good!

  3. Pingback: How Many Loaves Have You? | Catching a little Light

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