Friday, July 22, 2011

The Great Bread Adventure

Several of my friends have asked for my bread recipe, so I posted it here. For me, getting started was the hardest part because I wanted to find the easiest, fastest way to make homemade bread. And I was really intimidated because I didn't know much anything about bread. There are a lot of great options I considered, all of which have links below...just in case I change my mind in the future about what works for me.

I learned how to see if my yeast was any good.
I had a lot of expired yeast. Apparently getting married, moving, and having a baby doesn't leave much time for baking. But here's the cool thing...the recipe above actually proofs your yeast at the begining of the recipe so you can skip this link and not waste any of your yeast! {My yeast that expired in 2009 was still good at the end of 2010, by the way. I kept it in the fridge, but it will keep even longer if kept in the freezer.}

I learned more than I ever wanted to know about yeast.
For instance, it's a fungus! Learning what hamburger really was turned three of my siblings-in-law into vegetarians. I wonder if they would stop eating bread, too. That was really the only disturbing fact, and now I've shared it with you - sorry! So go ahead, click on the link above if you're interested in yeast. Personally, I eat hamburger and bread. I know, I'm gross.

I learned I can use my bread machine for dough and then bake the bread in the oven.  I really prefer bread baked in the oven much more than in the bread machine! It all comes down to the crust; too thick, crispy and tough in the bread machine.

I learned I can use my KitchenAid mixer for dough!
Please don't laugh. I know I am soooo underutilizing my KitchenAid; it would probably make people crazy to know that until now I had only used it for mixing.  You have no idea how ecstatic I am about this - honestly, the mess of kneading dough played a big part in keeping me from making bread. Hence, the idea to use the bread machine for the dough. Since my KitchenAid discovery I have actually sold my space consuming bread machine.

I learned about freezing bread dough.
I thought about making a bunch of dough at one time and freezing it. This is great for saving on the mess, but it really doesn't save much time when you consider it has to unfreeze and rise which takes about eight hours. I actually recently tried this just to see how the bread turns out. I was NOT impresesd, as it greatly affected the quality of my bread. It almost seemed to separate - lots of air pockets when I normally don't have any. Odd.

Found a visual (yes, there are pictures!) guide to shaping bread dough for rolls and other goodies. Apparently once you have a dough recipe you like, you can shape it however you want to get different baked breads. Now that I have the dough, there's no stopping me! Except for maybe three things. You know, the short little cuties running around my house shoving freshly baked bread in their mouths.

So there you have it. Ready to bake some bread? Have you used the internet to learn a new skill that you were previously clueless about? Or find instructions for a project? Do share!

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