Monday, December 31, 2012
what could be lovlier? today i had two goals--one was to break down and haul all the empty boxes that had taken over our basement (and tidy up the crawlspace in the process) and to revisit my breadbaking self.
i used to bake a lot of bread. it's been a long time since i have done this, but it's time to get back into it. since we got our flour mill i have been reading and dipping my feet into the learning curve and decided today was the day. rob was home, and i asked him if he wanted to help with the experiment. he was on board too (i don't think there is anyone on the planet that loves fresh baked bread like he does--now that his mom is gone).
i had decided to try a recipe in a book i found because i have never made bread this way--it only was to rise once. the idea interested me. so it was off to the races. the first ingredient was 2 TABLESPOONS of yeast--which explains why it only needs to rise once. i put the yeast in a little cup of warm water, fed it a bit of sugar and got going on the rest of the process. got rob to mind the milk as we brought it to a scald, and then added in the molasses and honey. and a little bit of shortening and salt. about this time i glanced at the yeast and HOLY CRAP--it looked like something from the lucy show. it had bubbled and over topped the measuring cup and run down the side. like some kind of warm, lumpy fragrant little jellyfish, the foamy top of yeast silently bubbled and grew. well no turning back now. the milk was ready to add to the flour. i poured two cups of our fresh ground whole wheat flour into the bowl, added the milk and hit the mixer button. as the batter became uniform it was time for the yeast. then more flour--a little white to help with the lightness, and then more whole wheat. we actually had to stop a couple times while rob ground more wheat. didn't know what this would do to the gluten in the flour--but we forged ahead. then when all was incorporated i set the mixer to a low speed and let the dough hook do my work for 15 minutes, as the recipe directed. then it was time to come out of the bowl and gently shape the two pieces of dough. into the greased pans they went for a 45 minute "rise" while we tackled the basement and crawlspace. when the timer rang, i came up and the loaves had risen to what looked about half again their mass. it didn't look quite right to me, but i followed the directions and popped them in a hot oven.
about 20 minutes later that smell that fills your soul with gladness permeated the house. it was snowy and cold outside, but in my house we were warm and enveloped in a cloud of yeasty happiness.
at the end of an hour i proofed the loaves and they were done--so i popped them out to a cooling rack. they had risen and crusted perfectly. since this was my first reunion with bread, i went all out and slathered the tops with butter and put a damp towel over them so they would develop a beautiful soft crust while cooling.
tonight i cut three slender slices to serve with dinner. they are a simply beautiful color a wonderful deep gold, and thanks to the kitchen aid mixer, the crumb structure was nearly perfect. i softened a little butter and spread a little on a half slice for myself. the flavor was just lovely--deep and complicated with that tiny bit of sharpness that molasses imparts. i love molasses and the fact that this recipe called for it was one of the main reasons i wanted to try it. there was no need to worry about putting the slices away--rob polished all the rest off with his supper.
the second loaf got packed off to the freezer, and i have the first loaf in the frig now--it will serve as a wonderful toast in the mornings--fresh and delicious with super wholesome ingredients. all i have to do is enter the recipe in the tracker to get an accurate calorie count.
i think in a couple weeks onion dill bread will reappear around here!