Friday, September 23, 2011

I'm sick of buying bread and the grocery store and forgetting about it and having it go bad.  So I'm pretty much just baking my own now. 

I had avoided doing this for a long time - baking bread seems like an epic task to me.  But apparently it's really not that hard...  My first time baking rolls from scratch a couple of years ago, they turned out rock hard.  So that dissuaded me for a while.  Then I realized a month or so ago that I should probably try again, and had great success!

I started with a simple focaccia, since I knew it didn't require too much kneading.  SO delicious!  I ate half the loaf on my own before Andrew even got home from work...  Then I tried a no-knead bread recipe, using wheat flour instead of bread flour.  BAD CALL!  I had no idea how different these flours are when it comes to bread - it was dense and HARD.  John Paul loved it and begged for it daily, but Andrew and I were not such fans... 

I enlisted Andrew's help to make a couple of loaves of white bread.  I was SO thankful for his kneading skills!  The recipe called for 6-8 minutes of kneading.  I was tired after 3, but he took over and the bread turned out great!  Exactly like an $8 loaf from Great Harvest, for a total cost of *maybe* $1/loaf. 

But it still seemed like a lot of work...  Wouldn't a bread machine be easier?  We really didn't have the money for one, but I remembered reading somewhere that tons of people have bread machines that they don't use - things registered for as wedding gifts and then tucked away along with the more ambitious specialty appliances.  I posted on our local freecycle and got one for free!  I tried it out immediately and ended up with...  a tasty but awkwardly-shaped loaf of italian bread.  Hmm...  For some reason I want my bread to be beautiful AND tasty.  And then I realized that I might as well just use this for the dough setting and then bake it on my own - no need to proof the yeast, no need to knead (haha!), the perfect compromise! 

And the result?

Totally beautiful!  And totally easy!  I'm really looking forward to trying out new recipes now that I don't have to get countertops clear just to cover them with flour.  I've already perfected a thin-crust garlic-herb pizza crust recipe, and now I want to find some more good basic recipes that I can punch up a little - I'm thinking Great Harvest X-Treme Cinnamon Chip-like.  That stuff is SERIOUSLY delicious.

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