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No Loafing About

April 23, 2011

Ahahahah, I kill me! Loaf, bread, loafing, laziness. How A isn’t rolling around on the floor all the time in hysterics at my wittiness, I’ll never know!

But it’s true! Good Friday was anything but a loafing around kind of day. There was organizing and more organizing (my kitchen has been almost completely overhauled and the basement has had a facelift of sorts), but most importantly there was baking! I know I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a baker, but I’ve been wanting to bake my own bread for quite some time now and I designated Good Friday as the day to do it!

One of my fondest memories is of my Nanny making bread. Every time we went to visit my grandparents, the timing of our arrival always coincided with her ready to punch it down and put it into the pans to bake. Without fail, she would give my sister and I each a piece of the dough to munch on. So. Good. Especially the sweet bread, which was made with molasses and raisins.

My first task was to find a recipe. I didn’t want to go fancy my first time out; I wanted to make a plain white bread. My instinct was to use the recipe for standard white bread from the Five Roses Cookbook my mom gave me years ago (originally published in 1932!):

It looked good, but made four loaves. I didn’t want to make that many just in case something went wrong and I didn’t want to worry about halving a recipe before I figured out what I was doing! So I did what anyone would do in 2011: I turned to the internet.

What would I do without Google?

On All Recipes Canada, I found a simple, easy looking solution in Amish White Bread. Two loaves, few ingredients…perfect! I figured that since my Nanny isn’t around to give me direction and advice, the Amish are probably the next best thing! If anyone knows how to make bread, it’s the Amish.

I gathered my ingredients and settled in for the long haul of baking.

The first step was to proof the yeast. I mixed the lukewarm water, sugar and yeast, set it on my oven (which I’d warmed up a bit) and waited. And waited. For a solid five minutes nothing happened:

I was afraid I’d done something wrong or that it wasn’t warm enough. Then suddenly, the little yeasties started to move and rise to the top!

An Easter Miracle! Well, actually just a chemical reaction. But still! Jesus was rooting for me, obviously 😉

After another 10 minutes or so of this, it was ready for the next step. Oil and salt were added and mixed in and then it was onto the flour. This is the messy part. I started out in the bowl:

But eventually the mixture got so stiff I had to move onto the counter and do it by hand:

Fun! And messy:

I don’t remember my Nanny ever getting that messy from baking bread…but I imagine that by the time I saw her making it when she was in her 50’s and 60’s that she could probably have done it in her sleep without spilling so much as a teaspoon of flour.

Note to Self. Or A. Or Mom and Dad: KITCHENAID MIXER. With DOUGH HOOKS!!

Note to Dad: Your camera is fine! You won’t find dough bits or flour here and there. That is, if I ever give it back 🙂

I finally got almost all of the flour mixed in and had my ball of dough ready to rise:

I popped it into the already warm oven (not hot or on, just warm) and waited for it to rise. And thank goodness it did! Rise, that is:

Whew. Kneading, shaping and into the oven for another rise:

And after an hour or so we were ready (finally) to bake:

I know they’re lumpy. Technique obviously wasn’t my goal! I just wanted to make something edible.

Thirty or so minutes later:

They look edible, don’t they? Beautiful golden colour. And the smell was AMAZING!! Let’s see what it looked like on the inside:

It was cooked, that’s for sure. A little denser than I thought it would be. I’m not sure if that’s because of the recipe or a result of something gone awry with the yeast. Hard to tell. And finally, the taste test:

The verdict? Very tasty. It’s a sweeter bread than your standard white bread, and as I mentioned, denser. But slathered with some butter, the results were really, really great! A was properly impressed and we both enjoyed it a lot. We even had it with our chili for dinner. The dense sweetness was a good accompaniment to the spicy chili.

I totally kicked ass with my bread making!! Thank God it worked. I’m quite proud of myself!

I will definitely archive this recipe for future use, but next time I think I’ll use the Five Roses recipe. My mom told me how she would halve it to make only two loaves at a time, so I feel better about that.

One small step for C, one giant leap towards domesticity!

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