Lost Arts studio

A lot of the fiber arts I enjoy are things like tatting, netmaking, chair caning, and even weaving, where people will come up to me when I demonstrate and solemnly tell me, "That's a lost art."

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Location: SW Outer Nowhere, Michigan, United States

On the Internet, nobody knows you're a chicken. (With apologies to Peter Steiner.)

19 June 2006

Bread Saga

I've been making bread for about 17 years. After my husband and I were married, I think I lasted about a year before I couldn't stand eating boughten bread any more. So the next time I went to my mom's, I copied down her bread recipe.

Then I took the recipe home, got out Mollie Katzen's "The Enchanted Broccoli Forest," and turned to page 86, "An Illustrated Guide to the baking of Yeasted Bread." This is still one of my favorites for giving would-be bread-bakers the paper equivalent of a walk-through on bread making.

My grama, my dad's mom, bakes bread. So he grew up eating homemade bread. Then he married my mom, and she bakes bread. So I grew up eating homemade bread. With a legacy like that, I couldn't suffer that poofy stuff I bought in the grocery store.

I don't bake bread because it's better for you, because it's close to the earth, because any of the wonderful-sounding, highflown reasons I might have. I bake bread because my mouth says "Yummy". It's entirely selfish, and if it adds in any side-benefits, dandy.

So here is today's bread saga. I went to the grocery store and bought a loaf of wheat-bread substance. Then I came home and started dumping stuff in the bread machine.

Ah-ha! You say. Evidence already of my lack of "purity". Well, originally I just mixed it by hand. These days I save my wrists for knitting and typing, and let the machine do the dough.

First in, two cups of hot water. Two tablespoons each of margarine and butter. (Because it tastes better.) A cup of rolled oatmeal. A quarter-cup of sugar. A scant tablespoon of salt. An egg. Then I was on a roll: "some" raisin bran cereal, soaked in milk. Two cups of graham flour. Three and a quarter cups of white flour. A tablespoon of dry yeast.

While the machine mixed the slurry into dough, I greased my bread-rising bowl and two loaf pans. I might use a machine to mix bread dough, but I don't like that weird-shaped, hard-crusted brick the machine bakes, and even if I liked half-inch-thick crust on my bread brick, bread bricks don't fit in the plastic bags I store bread in. Sliced bread bricks don't make a sandwich the size of a sandwich bag. And they don't fit into my toaster slot!

After the machine was done mixing the dough, I stopped it. It proposes to raise the dough in its little pan, but I propose it doesn't, either. I put the dough lump, minus the mixing paddle, in my bread bowl and put it in the oven to rise.

After about half an hour, I punched down the bread dough, an activity which is so satisfying, I'm surprised it's not against some law. I rolled it out flat with a rolling pin, made two loaf-shaped lumps of dough, and put it back to rise again.

Another half hour later, I had this:

This is the risen bread dough -- it hasn't been baked yet. It's waiting for the oven to get to baking temperature (350 F, or what my oldest cookbook calls a moderate oven: "flour sprinkled on a baking sheet turns a medium or golden brown in five minutes"). After it bakes (another half hour), we are going to have fresh hot bread with butter. Is your mouth watering? :) Mine is.



Blogger Beth said...

What do you think, Pavlov? ;-)

9:02 PM  
Blogger Treesa said...

YOU are an evil woman!!!!!! drool! drool! pant! pant! scratch the flea, drool! gaze imploringly with ooooohhhhhhh! eyes, begging for a piece of the corner with butter.

11:12 PM  
Blogger OldCinderella said...

Than you for the "Saga Bread" recipe. My family loves this bread.

10:46 AM  
Blogger Alwen said...

You're welcome -- I really like bread made with graham flour and oatmeal!

11:38 AM  
Blogger Tallguy said...

I have to say that I've been baking bread for a couple of years, off and on. But I finally got a break maker too, and mix my dough in it, and usually bake the bread in the oven. Mom has a nice dough machine, but she still bakes buns and bread in the oven -- just saves your wrists from all that mixing.

I also like to mix in different flours, some raisins, and recently I've been adding one banana which makes the dough a lovely texture. Yes, I do it because it's yummy (sure doesn't last long in my house, and I'm the only one here!) and it's so full of goodness! That funny fluffy light stuff they have in stores -- do you think they even use any flour?

You know, you do put lots of love into the bread when you make it yourself. Your family knows that.

1:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love fresh bread but confess to using a machine but if you tell me the temp and how long you baked these I would LOVE to try it. Thanks

8:04 AM  

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