Friday, May 9, 2008

Bread :)

I've always loved home made bread. Few things are as comforting as walking into the kitchen and being met by the wafting scent of baking bread. Momma used to make Aunt Jacquie's bread recipe, and my favorite way to eat it was fresh out of the oven with butter melting into the cracks. It was never the same if I just toasted it, though that was good too. It's just perfect straight out of the oven. She also made pull-apart bread (great with split pea soup), which is another favorite of mine. When I met T's family, his mom had a great recipe (4 loaves per batch!) of honey wheat bread which I made a lot. It's a very versatile loaf, good with everything from sweet jam to savory soups. I love the smell of the yeast mixing with the flour. I love the variety of recipes out there for different kinds of bread. I even love to knead my loaves by hand (though I often use only my mixer). And it's incredibly satisfying to pull out a steaming loaf from the oven and serve it with the dinner you've made. Lately, though, I find I've been a bit disillusioned about making bread. I've been trying one recipe several times over, but it keeps turning out worse and worse. It seemed to work fine the first time I tried it, but maybe that was just beginner's luck. The main difference for this bread recipe is that you soak the flour overnight to make it more easily digestible. If we had four stomachs, like cows, I don't think we'd need much extra help digesting grains. But we don't, so we do. I want to try making a sourdough bread, which accomplishes the same thing as soaking the grains in a yeasted bread, but I'm anxious about starting a culture. Not only does it require time and regularity of schedule (it takes about a week to get a good starter going), it also can depend largely on the type of water used, freshness of the grain, temperature, etc., etc., etc. Maybe when T and I get back from CA in June I'll give it a try. We should be home for a good steady period after that. In any case, with the helpful urging of a good friend last night, I made another loaf of bread. It was Oatmeal Bread from the book Cold Weather Cooking (a gift from this same friend. I highly recommend this book--it's got LOTS of helpful hints, is very explanatory, and has well-written, almost-fool-proof recipes. I credit this book with the success of my first Thanksgiving turkey!). I didn't soak the grains first because I wanted to try the recipe without any modifications, to see how it is supposed to turn out and all that. As it happened, I didn't have any apply cider, so I used orange juice. And I didn't have enough honey, either, so I used maple syrup. I'm happy to report it turned out FABULOUSLY! In fact, I think it's the best bread I've ever made! The texture was great. It rose up to a normal loaf size. And it wasn't as crumbly as most other breads I've made. I only made 1/2 a recipe because T and I are leaving for WA for 10 days on Saturday. I'm incredibly excited to see my in-laws (we haven't seen them since August!), and I may even bring the bread recipe with me since T's mom makes her own bread too. But I'm also excited to get home and try a full recipe and experiment with soaking. The oats in the bread need to be softened with boiling water anyway, so I think it will be very easy to soak the oats (and the whole wheat flour) over night in some warm water with yogurt or buttermilk added. So those are my bread adventures so far. I'll be sure to let you know how the soaked version comes out :) ---------

“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” James Beard (1903-1985)

"[Bread-baking is] one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world's sweetest smells...there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread." M. F. K. Fisher, The Art of Eating

1 comment:

  1. Yum. What a lovely post to read. I want to go bake a loaf right now! (or eat some, anyways) :)