I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing Bake!!

BaguettesI love bread. I love bread with butter. I love bread with olive oil  . . . and balsamic vinegar!!  I love bread with cheese.  I love bread with cheese and tomatoes and basil!! I like bread in rolls. I like bread in loaves.  I like to slice it, dice it, rip it and chew it.  I like it as the bookends of my sandwich or as a crusty chunk in my soup. I like it for breakfast, for lunch and for dinner. I like it when I am hungry and even when I am not!!  I like to toast it, soak it, dip it and fry it. Almost any way I can fix it I will try it!!

Bread is an amazing food.  The cultivation of wheat marks the change in man from nomadic to agrarian.  After always being on the hunt or following the herd, Mankind finally settled down in one spot and began the practice of cultivation. Of all the grasses and grains our European forefathers came across wheat became the preferred staple. The ability for wheat and flour to be stored over the non-producing seasons allowed families to provide themselves with calories and nourishment while the next crop grew.  Bread, at that time, was literally the stuff of life.

Bread for me IS the stuff of life.  (That and beer. It must be the yeast that they have in common.)  Recently I purchased new food processor and discovered that it has a setting for Dough.  Being the culinary purist that I am it took about . . . a second . . . for me to think, “Cool! No more kneading.”  For those of you who make, or have made, there own bread you will empathize with my next sentiment.  It takes a lot of work to make a loaf of bread!

Sure we have great recipes available to us and all the ingredients we need are on the shelves of the local grocery store. So why do not we make our breads?  Homemade bread tastes WAY better, in most cases.  Simple answer: (You guessed it.)  Effort. It takes a lot of work to make a loaf of bread.  For a while bread machines were all the craze but honestly . . . who wants to eat a cylindrical loaf of bread.  There is something about those hand wrought loaves that are more appealing.  I even purchased the heavy duty Kitchen Aid mixer with a dough hook so I could bake bread more often.  But I have found that it isn’t strong enough to knead stiff doughs and it stripped a gear with my last effort.

So when I saw how easy it was to use the food processor I jumped at the chance to try it out.  It was very simple with only a few detail points to consider. First, I did not need to proof the yeast. It simply got mixed in with the flour. Second, all of the dry ingredients get mixed in the bowl and the water is slowly drizzled in as the processor . . . processes. The only consideration was measuring the temperature of the flour and water with an instant read thermometer.  I spent five minutes mixing and kneading the dough.  After that, it only took a little forming and some patience. I did find that I needed to schedule my day around the rising periods but in the end the amount of effort expended was well invested as the results were superb!!

There was something very satisfying about having my house smell of freshly baked bread.  I knocked back one of the loaves with tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Another succumbed to rips and grabs.  The third I wrapped and gifted.  If you find a little extra time one day consider knocking out a loaf . . . the easy way.

Eat Well and Smile Often!!


p.s. Hmm . . . maybe I should try a Ciabatta next??


Bread of Life!!

For years, like ever since I was 8, I have been trying to bake a loaf of soft, light, sandwich bread. I even spent . . . $18,000.00 . . . going to culinary school to learn how. You think I would have it down by now. Not.

These loaves taste great and they will make a fantastic breakfast of french toast for me. But, to the discerning eye, one will notice the crumb is too dense and that the gluten has not been fully developed. This was an intentional mistake on my part. The successes I have had with bread involved a supercharged yeast, an 8′ long deck oven, a temperature controlled proofing box, a massive Hobart mixer and an experienced baker looking over my shoulder. Like many things, my childhood memories haunt me. My dear sweet mother, angel of a woman, a saint even, who could literally burn water, told me once; as I bragged about my youthful kneading skills; “It was good bread just hard and dense.” so I have been attempting to lighten up a little. By lightening up I mean not kneading as much. Kneading too much makes the bread chewy, I’m not going for chewy here.

What this means, with these loaves, is that I did not knead the appropriate amount. Therefore the gluten has not developed properly which, as a result, did not provide the correct crumb or cell structure to capture the Co2 released from the yeast which gives the bread it’s lift and lightness. Shucks. Only one two things to do:

1. Eat the bread warm with butter, eggs and syrup
B. Try it again.

Cheers and smile often,