Thursday, January 29, 2009

Adventures in bread making

As excited as I was when I came across sodium free bread in the frozen food aisle, I have still wanted to "conquer" my beast and learn how to make sodium free bread.  That wonderful visiting teacher of mine makes the meanest bread around without oil and with the salt being optional. (Although, quite honestly, I feel like the sodium free bread is awfully bland without honey, jam or something of the like)  Being the incredibly awesome visiting teacher that she is, when she made an appointment to come see me this month, she asked if I wanted her to teach me how to make bread.  Why, yes, I would love that!  She reads minds, too. 

We had a lovely afternoon with Carol teaching me the art of breadmaking.  The secret?  Proofing the yeast.  Every time I try to make bread, I never know if we will end up with a yummy loaf of goodness or a rock.  Proofing the yeast will prevent this unknown result factor as you know before adding the flour if your yeast is alive and kicking.  For those of you out there who are like me and not so experienced in the bread arts, proofing involves mixing the lukewarm water, yeast and sugar together and letting them sit for about 15 minutes to see if they get all foamy.  no foam=killed yeast.  If you don't want a rock, you don't want to be a yeast murderer.  Thou shall not kill thy yeast.  The other secrets she shared with me was the nice touch of putting corn meal under the loaf.  She said it was to make sure it doesn't stick, but I think it is to strut your fancy cooking skills.  And the last, most important thing (next to thou shall not kill thy yeast) is to make the slits in the top of the loaf with a knife to make it look nice and professional.  

Can I just say that the smell of homemade bread is intoxicating?  If you add to that fresh homemade bread a little bit of, oh, some lavender infused honey, everything else could go wrong and you would still be okay dokay.  (Thanks, Dad, for letting me steal the lavender infused honey that I gave you.  You know, since you hated it and all!) 

Side note #1: Does anyone know if babies can have honey if it is cooked? Like in bread?
Side note #2: After being instructed by my sister to take pictures of my bread for her, Autumn automatically started telling me how to pose the bread for the right "effect".  She is going to have quite the photography skills!

Edited with Recipe: 2 TBSP yeast
2 TBSP sugar
2 cups lukewarm water
You start by mixing the above ingredients with a whisk.  We then put them in the oven (at 100 degrees.  We just turned the oven on to 350 for a minute and then turned it off.) for 15 minutes with a towel over it.  When we took it out, it was nice and foamy, indicating that the yeast was alive and well.  Then we added in 6 cups of flour, 2 cups at a time.  We would mix in the 2 cups and then add in 2 more.  By the last 2 cups, you are kneading the bread instead of mixing.  You knead away for about 5 minutes and place it back in the bowl.  Cover it with a towel and put it back in your 100 degree oven (you might need to turn it on to 350 for a minute again) and let it rise for about 15 minutes.  It should double in size.  Now you take your cookie sheet and sprinkle cornmeal where you are going to put your loaf.  Cut the bread in half and begin shaping the loafs.  This includes some kneading, some "compressing" the bread of sorts to get out air bubbles and some shaping it into beautiful little loafs.  When you are happy with your shape, you put it on the cornmeal, cut those ever so important slits in the top and cook at 375 for 40 minutes.  (30 was enough in our oven)  

You can play with the flour, doing half white flour and half whole wheat.  You can also replace the sugar for honey for some extra healthy yumminess.


Becky said...

Was it as good as it looks? Where is the recipe you used? YEAH, you conquered your beast!

Jen said...

Yum!!!! I made itallian bread bowls last week and it was my first time. I couldn't believe they turned out!

PS- I would GUESS cooked honey is okay, since kids eat graham crackers, and they have honey in them...

Anonymous said...

Babies can have honey if it is cooked. The risk w/ honey to early is botulism and that is killed when cooked. I can't wait to try this reciep.

Sarah said...

Score. My next bread loaf will have honey and freshly ground wheat flour. I can smell it already.

Annalia Romero said...

That looks super yummy. I might just have to make some.