I love to bake. For years I have baked cakes, cookies, and quick breads. I wanted to bake bread. Real bread. But I was afraid of yeast. We have a bread machine. I use it regularly. But I don’t have to do anything other than pour in the ingredients, set it, and start it. Other than making sure that the yeast isn’t past its 6 months since I opened it date, I don’t have to worry about kneading or rising. Because yeast scares me.
I thought that I’d like to take a bread making class so that someone could, in real life and not from a book or web page, show me how to knead the dough and what it should feel like when ready to rise. The teacher would also show me how to bloom the yeast.
A friend makes her own bread. I asked about kneading. She said that she lets her mixer do the kneading. AHA! We have a 6 quart Kitchenade Professional stand mixer. With a dough hook. I decided to be brave and give making bread, without the bread machine, a try.
Last winter I started with a recipe that I found on the internet that had good reviews. It made two loaves of whole wheat honey oatmeal bread. I messed up the yeast blooming part, but redid it and, with the help of the mixer, made two loaves of very tasty bread. Then came cinnamon swirl bread. That worked out very well, too. Our kitchen and house are cool, so keeping the dough warm for rising was a trick until I remembered that we have a microwavable heating pad. Heated for a couple of minutes it is warm enough to keep the dough warm for rising. I though that I was pretty smart.
The whole wheat bread was made again. Then the cinnamon swirl bread. It was during this last loaf that I discovered, after owning and using it for 3 1/2 years, that the oven has a proof setting. Wow! How did I miss that? Anyway, the second loaf of cinnamon swirl bread rose to a huge size in the loaf pan in the oven. And it became very delicious french toast. Yes it did.
So, now that the house is cool again and the oven can run for a few hours without overheating the house, bread is being made again, without the bread machine. There is 1/3 of a loaf of the whole wheat left and I only baked it yesterday. The other loaf is in the freezer. Another batch will be made late next week to prep for the parental Christmas visit.
But I did it. I braved the yeast and made homemade bread. And it was good. I’m still nervous about screwing up the yeast, and I have yet to have someone teach me how to knead, but I did it.
Maybe buttermilk bread is next. Or cinnamon swirl for Christmas breakfast. Hmmmm…