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I make bread.

August 17, 2009

I’ve been having fun with cooking, as usual. My most recent kitchen escapade was baking bread! I have never made a yeast bread before without the breadmaker at my parent’s place. I don’t own a breadmaker, so I decided it was high time I learn how to use yeast and start kneading!

I found an excellent recipe in a cookbook that my Grandma gave me. It uses one cup of whole wheat flour and two cups of white flour. I figured it would be best to start off with a mostly white bread recipe, as it would rise more easily. This particular recipe suggested that I not use a loaf pan and instead form the loaf myself with folding and pinching and such. I actually succeeded the steps it lays out with one loaf, but with the second loaf that the recipe instructs you to make, I decided that forming a loaf was too difficult. Instead I made a bunch of little buns.

P8110965One bun on a plate.

Making the bread itself was easy enough when you follow the instructions. I made sure to use warm water so that the yeast would react properly (I don’t even want to admit how many loaves my dad and I ruined in our breadmaker by using cold water!). Kneading for ten minutes solid was quite enjoyable. It’s relaxing and the time went by surprisingly fast. I found that making bread isn’t that tricky at all; it’s simply the resting time that all adds up to make it appear as though it’s a daunting task. It took about three hours in total to make, but so much of that time is spent wandering off to clean the kitchen or to read blogs while the dough runs rises and rests that bread is- dare I say it- simple to make.

The bread turned out beautifully! It didn’t rise a whole lot, but the cookbook is quite old and I expect that “back in the day” their loaves of bread were much smaller than they are today, anyways. I was immensely pleased with the bread. It tasted delicious. Next time, though, I will use a loaf pan to give it more structure. I think I’ll also add a little bit more whole wheat flour in ratio to the white and add in some flaxseed meal and/or wheat germ for extra nutrients.

P8120970This is my pastry board! It’s actually a table cloth. But it has the same bumpy texture as a pastry board so it does the trick. Plus it folds up and takes up much less space than a big pastry board would!

Segue in which I question my sanity:

I’m still in mild shock that this experience went by without a hitch. I didn’t drop anything on the floor. Or forget to turn the oven on. Or burn my oven mitt*. Or set the smoke alarm off. Or forget any ingredients. The bread didn’t even stick to the pan, for goodness sake! But I think that the bread made me cocky because then I tried making chocolate pudding for my sister and, although it was decidedly thick and pudding-like while on the stove, as soon as it cooled off it turned runny as water. I was disappointed, but the fact that the pudding didn’t turn out also assured me that no alien has taken over me and turned me into Nigella Lawson overnight (not that I’d be complaining if I turned into Nigella Lawson, obviously. But it would also be a little disconcerting to magically find cooking to be so easy). Anyway, that particular mishap was remedied by dipping frozen bananas into the runny chocolate. Delicious!

Back to the bread:

I’ve been looking for more yeast bread recipes to play with them so that I can see which one is my favourite. In newspapers and on blogs there are a surprising number of whole wheat beer breads. I’m going to make one of those soon, but I’m curious as to why these recipes are so common. Does it taste like beer at all? I mean, is it worth it to turn a beer into a loaf of bread? Most people I know who are beer lovers would much rather drink the beer straight than mix it into bread dough.

I’ve also found this recipe for regular whole wheat bread, and it looks delicious, but it calls for five cups of flour to make one loaf! That seems like an enormous amount of flour, especially because the recipe that I used called for three cups of flour for two loaves. But maybe that explains why the loaves were so tiny. What do you all think? Is five cups of flour for one loaf a normal amount? Could I get by with less or would that distort the recipe horrifically? (Normally I’d be all for finding out on my own through trial and error, but, that’s rather a lot of flour to waste. That’s the worst part about kitchen experimentation. If someone goes wrong, everything goes to waste).

Also, I’d love to hear any tips and advice that all of you seasoned bread bakers have to share. I’d like to make a bread with a higher whole wheat to white ratio, but I’d still like the bread to be light. I’m not looking for a super dense bread! Any ideas?

*Does anyone else have this problem or is it just me? Seriously, about once a month I catch my oven mitt on fire when removing a dish from the oven. Consequently all of our oven mitts are blackened or have holes in them. I wonder if people with their own cooking shows ever have this issue?

P8120973Raspberry jam and a mixture of light cream cheese, honey, cinnamon, and vanilla extract smeared on freshly made bread

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22 comments

  1. Well done for trying to make bread!

    My oven mitts are also in a pitiful state… I think the TV chefs just have a bottomless supply!


  2. hmmm is it sad that I rarely bake (except cookies) but frequently catcheth the mit on fire.

    we need some of those rubbery imprevious to ANYTHING and work at three billion degrees mitts I think.


  3. What timing! I made rolls yesterday, and paid at least a little attention to how much flour I used. I never measure it any more. I know I did the first time I made whole wheat rolls, because the recipe called for precisely half and half and I used a bit more whole wheat than white, but now I just put flour in a bowl and on the counter to knead it in. I add some salt and sugar and oil, but the yeast packet and the cup and a half of water are the only precise quantities. I think it was about five or six cups, though.

    I don’t have any oven mitts. The times I’ve had to use them at friends’ houses have always felt as though the whole thing would slide off my hand and I’d drop the hot whatever on the floor. My potholders have not actually caught fire, but they all have little blackened places on them.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky


  4. I use the rubbery hazmat-esque glove. It rocks.

    The bread I make isn’t “real” bread, in that it uses yogurt instead of yeast (I think, or else if just uses yogurt and no yeast), and I don’t think I used that much flour.


  5. Your oven mits catch on FIRE?? Hmm…I can’t say that I have ever had that problem before. And this happens about once a month? Maybe you need to try out a new oven mit! Or maybe wait at least a minute to let the pan cool down before you touch it? Strange.

    The bread looks awesome. I have never made my own bread, but my mom made it all the time when I was growing up. I should make some, you’ve inspired me! Of course, I think I’d rather use a bread maker, I’m not that patient :)


  6. Mmmm, I love fresh baked bread! But I admit to being a breadmaker user, because it’s so easy and convenient. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to make a 100% whole wheat bread that isn’t as dense as a brick. I usually try to do 1.2 to 3/4 whole wheat and the rest baking flour.

    As for beer bread, it is really yummy. It doesn’t taste like beer but does have a sort of hoppy flavor to it, especially if you use a nice dark beer. I think it would be worth sacrificing the beer to have beer bread with a nice heavy soup in the winter.


  7. Methinks you need some silicone gloves! I have never caught an oven mitt on fire – are you touching the oven element with it? Because if it’s catching on fire just from the pan or the racks? It’s made of flammable material and should be discarded!!!

    Bread making is an art. It sounds as though you are getting the hang of it. Do you use a thermometer to test the water temperature? If your water is too hot, it will kill your yeast. If it is too cool, the yeast won’t activate.

    Most bread recipes call for a large quantity of flour because “back in the day” when women HAD to bake bread, they were feeding large crowds of hungry, hard-working men coming in from the fields! They needed a lot of bread. (Well, that, plus the fact that they were probably hauling water from the well to do the dishes and laundry, etc., and didn’t have the time or the inclination to bake bread twice a day, so needed enough for all the meals….)

    Gee, I should probably write a post on my own blog, instead of using up all this space in your comment section…..


  8. Not much is better than au bon pain! One of the many reasons I want to live in Santa Cruz if I’m ever crazy enough to move to California, is I loved the bread I got at a bakery there!

    I had a German friend visiting who was making bread here. Being salt careful, I asked him not to use salt! His response translated as, “with no salt it is dog food” LOL!


  9. I’m not much of a bread baker, but the husband makes bread all the time. You can try white whole wheat flour if you want a lighter, more delicate loaf, but denser is generally the rule with whole wheat bread. I have come to prefer it that way.


  10. Congratulations on baking bread! I’m actually planning on baking some bread this week after the pizza dough went so well a few weeks ago… So, unfortunately, I don’t have any bread advice yet. All I can say is that I try really hard to stick to the recipe when baking as I have ruined too many things by doing my own thing… Good luck! :)


  11. Wow! That’s a great looking bread! Thanks for the shout out, very clever. :P
    I’ve never made my own bread (yeast and rising scares me) but you gave me hope. I shall look for a recipe I can follow. Hopefully, by next week I would have made my own bread so I can have even better beans on toast – my lazy dinner staple. :D
    Looks like we’ll be experimenting making bread together. Problem is the amount of flour I’m accumulating. Yay!


  12. Those are yummy-looking! I’ve actually made bread before, with the machine and without it, and I did love the kneading process. It’s a great time to get thoughts sorted out…or to let them go completely.

    As for oven mitts, I don’t burn those so often, but I’ve been known to set a kitchen towel afire on occasion. :)

    Thanks for sharing your pictures and your recipes!


  13. Well done! Looks delicious. I’m a recent first time bread baker too, but long time oven mitt burner :) I’m keen to try a sourdough loaf soon too…. yummmmmmm bread……


  14. Get some new mitts before you hurt yourself! I have the kind that were originally designed for barbeque grills. You can literally pour boiling water on them while you have them on and not feel it! They rock!

    I love making bread. I usually stick with pizza crust every Friday night, but I have an awesome recipe for oat pan rolls. Delicious. Let me know if you want it!


  15. Hanlie- that must be it!

    MizFit- I think so :D

    Mary Anne- true chefs are always recognizable by the way they don’t measure ingredients, I think… maybe the quantity of flour doesn’t matter much.

    Tricia- ooh yogurt would be an interesting yeast replacement.

    Gina- I probably should have made that more clear: it catches on fire because I accidentally brush it against the element inside the oven, hehe.

    Gena- beer bread does sound pretty tasty.

    Bag Lady- Ahahahha “do I use a thermometer”, oh Bag Lady, you have so much faith in me… (no, no I do not :)). You should definitely write a post about bread making!!

    Dr. J- seems we just can’t get by without the salt ;)

    Hil- I have looked EVERYWHERE for white whole wheat flour! I asked a couple people who work at specialty food stores if they have it and they looked at me like I was crazy. I’m pretty sure that white whole wheat flour doesn’t exist. Hehe.

    Andrea- ME TOO. Recipes are good to stick to (for a little while, anyway ;)).

    Mia- I’m accumulating so much flour these days. Experimentation is fun!

    Cammy & Berni- oh good, I’m glad I’m not the only one who burns random things.

    Diane- YES!!


  16. I’m impressed. Your bread looks amazing. That’s the only thing i seem to consistently get right. I made pasta from scratch this weekend. Served with broccoli and home made Alfredo…it was the best.


  17. Hmmph. We tried to make bread this weekend. Zucchini bread. which Ray randomly threw peaches into it.

    I’d love to taste yours someday.


  18. I am terrified of making bread! I don’t know why….the few times I’ve made it, it’s either been too doughy or burnt. But that’s on my list of things to accomplish – bake a great loaf of bread. :-)


  19. (disclaimer: i’m only beginning the bread making process as well, have not mastered it!) CONGRATS! there is something smelling the rising dough, then as it bakes in the oven… heavenly! there are all sorts of sizes, so it could easily be 5 cups. If you wanted to scale it back, make sure you did it with all of the ingredients. You may also need more/less flour as you knead- external factors can affect how sticky the dough is. You don’t want it to be sticky, so keep adding flour as much as you need.


  20. homemade bread is really one of my favorite things. i love how you can see the whole process. you should check out the recipes on the bob’s red mill website. many of them are whole wheat.


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  22. I’m still very much a bread for breakfast person. I just picked up a Bread Maker.
    I’m thoroughly impressed with this machine. Baking your own bread is much healthier.



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