Snow Storms and Freshly Baked Bread

Lots of people bake, and they bake better than I do, but I don’t care. The smell of warm bread on a cold snowy day is just divine. Today I baked bread. I don’t do it often, but we’ve decided to try to bake more of our bread instead of always buying it at the grocery store. Our family has a bread machine, but we prefer the look of a traditional loaf, so we never really got past the first round of “yippee, we’ve got a bread machine.”  A couple of years ago my husband started using the dough feature on the machine, because he doesn’t seem to have the touch for kneading, but he loves home baked bread. And, because he is a true scientist, he fixed all the recipes so they would work in the machine. So, we have these great recipes lying around, and now we have committed to making better use of them. After all, flour is a whole lot cheaper than a ready made loaf.

This morning I decided that I could do four loaves before the day was too far gone, and it sounded so comforting…snow outside, temps in the single digits or low teens, and we could be cozy inside with fresh bread in time for lunch. Sounds good to me! I yanked out the book and chose a white bread with olive oil, and a maple brown bread.  I used the bread machine for the white bread, and even considered leaving it in the machine to bake, but I couldn’t resist making my own loaves, so I took it out and formed them up just like Mom taught me. Make a think rectangle with the dough, then roll it up (about 3 times), then tuck the ends into the pan. Since it was so cold, I put the oven on warm and set them on top to rise. I’m sure thats’s no-no, but it always works for me.

While they were on the rise, I started on the maple brown bread,  which is a Taste of Home recipe sans bread machine. It has maple syrup, coffee and an egg in it. I mixed that up, and had it nearly kneaded when I realized I had not put the oil in….remember I said there were plenty of people better at baking than me. What to do…I don’t know if it worked, but I just spread my dough out and  poured a bit of oil on it, and kept kneading. It took me about 5 rounds to do it, but I think it is probably ok. Kneading is good for the soul and generally good for the bread.

My next mistake was my oven temperature. We have an OLD oven, and the temperature marks have worn off, so you have to count the marks. I baked the first two loaves at 300 degrees for 30 minutes before I realized my mistake. So, I baked them another 15 minutes at 375, and when they were a little brown and sounded hollow I pulled them out. Because of the extra time involved, I was short a pan; thankfully the frigid air assisted in a quick cool down, and the final loaf was in the pan.

When I put the maple loaves into the oven, I tried a white loaf, and it survived its unconventional baking just fine. Alas, the maple loaves are pretty dark, again because the oven dial. I guess I know what my next project will be…

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