Maybe it’s this whole gardening thing that’s gotten to me. Or maybe it was watching Food, Inc. a couple weeks ago. Whatever the case, lately I’ve been interested in learning how to make my own food on a very basic level.
Earlier this week, I decided to tackle one of the kitchen’s most basic cooking skills: bread. And I ain’t talking about a bread machine, either! While it seems like it should be a basic skill, I really don’t recall the last time I heard a friend mention she was going to be making a loaf (unless it was banana bread).
I’ve had a few mishaps in the past with yeast, but seeing how I was out of bread and didn’t want to make another trip to the store this week, I decided to try my hand at breadmaking. As luck would have it, the last 2 yeast packets I had read “best by May 3, 2010.” The date exactly. It was a sign.
I started by mixing 2 cups of flour, the yeast, and 2 cups warm water (pretty warm; but not hot) in a mixer on slow for 30 seconds. I scraped the bowl and turned it to high for 3 minutes. I then proceeded to about 2 more cups of flour in slowly. Then the instructions said to turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and proceed to knead the dough, adding anywhere from 2 1/2 to 3 cups more flour into the mix.
At this point, my hands were entirely goopy and caked. It was a little unnerving, but as I continued to mix in the flour, the dough got more manageable.
Then, I put it into a ball and into a lightly oiled bowl and covered it. It said to put it in a warm spot, so I thought right near the stove while I cooked should work. Not a great idea. It was TOO warm. When I checked on my dough over an hour later, I swear part of it had COOKED! Bizzarre.
Betty Crocker says that you’ll know when your dough has doubled in size when you can insert two fingers into it, and the indentations remain. Mine didn’t look as good as the one in her cookbook, but nonetheless, indentations! In hindsight, I think I should have placed this dough rise a bit more. But I was getting excited at this point and couldn’t wait.
Then I punched the dough, and divided the dough into two rolls where it had to sit ANOTHER hour to rise again. Good gravy this isn’t quick to make!
At long last, it was time to bake the bread! I was surprised to see Ms. Crocker instructs to bake it at 425 for about 20 minutes. I would’ve guessed more like 350 for 30 minutes. Oh my goodness, the bread smelled SOOO good cooking up in the oven!
Here’s my final result:
Have you ever made bread from scratch? Any tips you could share?
I’m also curious to know if there is an interest in having me explore “from scratch” cooking periodically. Please let me know – it’s something I’ve been toying with. I’m thinking I want to try to make homemade graham crackers next.