Baking Bread

I have always considered myself a decent cook.  Give me a recipe, and I can make it.  Sweets & desserts are my specialty (because they’re my favorite, of course!).  So, when I decided to try my hand at baking bread, I figured I would be a natural.  NOT SO!  My bread didn’t rise, turned out really heavy, and was just, overall, nasty.  My wonderful brother, Tim, who is a phenomenal baker, gave me a recipe he created–one that he tweaks to make everything from bread to cinnamon rolls–and careful instructions.  Which, I followed, mostly.  Turns out, mostly is not good enough! 

With trepidation, I thought I’d try again the other day.  I took pictures to document my progress, and I thought I’d share.  🙂

Step 1:  I had the milk and butter warming up in the microwave when I realized that I didn’t remember unpacking the yeast.  So, I had to walk down to Handy Andy with all the kids to pick up a packet of yeast.  We got home, finished warming up the milk & butter.  At this point, everything looks GREAT!  🙂

So, on to Step 2:  Adding the yeast, sugar, and salt.  To my surprise, the yeast actually started bubbling away as it dissolved.  I wasn’t sure when exactly to put in the sugar, but it seemed to work out ok.  

Step 3:  Here’s where I made my mistakes before.  You know how the recipe tells you to put in one cup of flour at a time?  Yeah…I just dumped it all in last time.  SO, deciding to actually follow the directions this time, I stirred in one cup of flour at a time.  By this time, I have, not only my brother’s recipe, but two Betty Crocker cookbooks out on the counter turned to the pictures of the dough.  What is it supposed to look like?  How in the world do I know it’s ready?  Tim says that it gets satiny and you just feel that it’s done.  Well, I don’t trust my ‘feeling,’ hence, the two illustrated cookbooks!  Apparently, baking bread requires some 6th sense of baking, which you must acquire through practice.  Yikes!

Anyway, I finally get the dough to look ‘right’–where it doesn’t really stick to the board anymore as I’m kneading it.  So, I decide this is as good as it’s going to get and I put it back in the bowl to rise for an hour in the nice, warm sunroom. 

An hour later, I was pleasantly surprised to see that my dough had, indeed doubled in size!  I punched it down and divided it in half, placing it in two bread pans.  I covered the pans and set them aside to rise for another hour.  I even set the timer–but forgot to press start.  So, about 90 minutes later, I remember the bread & find that it has doubled in size again!  I was so excited that I forgot to take a picture & just put the loaves in the oven.  30 minutes later, here is what I found: 

Two beautiful loaves of bread.  In the pans, they were pretty hard, so Ryan was dubious.  But I dutifully rubbed butter all over the tops, & turned them out on the cooling rack, covering again with a towel.  Sure enough, the bread was nice and soft!

In fact, Ryan and the kids couldn’t get enough of it!

I think I will try this again sometime soon!  I may even get brave and try to make dinner rolls.  We’ll see! 

9 Responses to Baking Bread

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