Saturday, November 8, 2008
How To Make Bread
No, this isn't a complex step-by-step tutorial on how to make a loaf of bread. This is how to get a bread maker to do it all for you. My first loaf of bread was the basic white bread recipe found in the bread maker's instruction booklet.
Start with the right ingredients. I learned that you have to use flour intended for bread to get good results. All-purpose flour isn't milled fine enough for bread makers. The bread flour cost $2.99 for 5 pounds--higher than the $1.97 I'm used to paying for generic all-purpose flour, but still tolerable.
The dry active yeast is another story. Let's just say I need to find a much cheaper source for it than the local grocery store. I paid $7.89 for a 4 ounce jar! Yikes! The sugar, salt, oil and water were already on hand and at minimal cost.
Measure all the above ingredients very accurately and place them in the bread pan in the order listed in the recipe. Insert the bread pan into the bread maker. Next, push a complex series of buttons, enter your four digit PIN number and close the lid. Walk away and have a cup of coffee, go stare at your chickens or whatever suits you. Come back in 20 minutes and you'll see a ball of dough. (That dark blotch on the top of the flour is the very expensive Neiman-Marcus yeast.)
The ball of dough goes through three 30-minute kneading and resting cycles. In that time the dough rises as the yeast burps. Then the bread maker bakes the bread and Presto! You've got fresh baked bread three hours later! The best thing about this entire process is that the mess is minimal. The only thing to clean is the bread pan.
The loaf of bread was just the right texture for my taste: not too light and not too heavy. The crust wasn't like bark and the flavor was just right. As I enjoyed a slice of bread with a pat of butter smeared on it the ideas began flowing in my head. Stratas, french toast, garlic bread, pita pockets, focaccia...the possibilities are endless.
Gift ideas also came to mind. Wouldn't a homemade loaf of bread with some little jars of preserves make your Christmas morning?
I'm out of control.