Fanfare for the First Loaf

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I had decided to start this blog after I bought the bread machine off of craigslist.  That being said, who buys a new (or new to them) fun kitchen gadget and doesn't try it out? Really, who?

So, though undocumented by photo, I thought I would share about the first loaf of bread. Excitedly I went home, and after purchasing some White Lilly Bread flour, I ran home to test it out. The Boy is particularly fond of White Lilly flours, as many of his family recipes involve it despite being Yankees from the cold depths of MI.

Walked in the door, pulled out the machine, the flour and realized.... I need a recipe.

Being resourceful, I thought what better place to get a recipe than the manual from the machine itself? Except as the machine is new to me, not new, I didn't have a manual. Oh the women had mentioned she had it somewhere, and she could even mail it to me if she found it while moving. A nice thought, but I politely declined. I know the ol' "the manual's in the mail." Once she had her cash, she didn't really care if I had the manual or not. I would forge my own path, how hard could it be?

I found the manual online. Great! Chapter 2: Let's Bake Bread. Sounds like the perfect place to start, right? Who needs chapter 1?

Then I was enlightened by the most important secret to bread making. Exact measurements. They said it 3 times in four lines, I guess they must me right. Apparently exact measurements means tediously scooping flour into the measuring cup, and then leveling it off. Did you know you can add up to a full tablespoon by scooping your flour with the measuring spoon? Whew, glad I read the manual. Who wants to be off by a tablespoon?

A quick scan revealed that there was indeed a second most important tip to bread making, this one even more important to us with bread machines. Put the ingredients in the machine in the right order.

First: Wet ingredients
Second: Dry ingredients
 Last: Yeast

Phew, glad I read the manual. Now it gives me a recipee for simple, but very good white bread.

Oster Bread Machine Simple White Bread Recipe

1 + 1/3 cups water
4 teaspoons softened
butter or margarine
4 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons dry milk
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

I load up the machine, set the crust setting to medium and wait with bated breath for 4 hours for the first loaf. The machine clunks and beeps at random times, what's that about? Just when I begin to forget it's there, it starts clunking again. I peep through the window hole on the top. Nope, still just dough. Thank goodness for window holes for the restless.

Four hours later it beeps a loud beep. Is this the "come pull the delicious masterpiece out of the machine" beep? I slide the loaf onto a cooling rack and was the lucky the mixing paddle just fell out. I begin wielding my bread knife. Pretty crusty for a medium setting. In fact, way to crumbly. Inside is very light, and chewy, but the edge could break teeth. "It's good as long as you eat the inside" The boy reassures me. So this is the medium setting? The dark setting must make the loaf one giant brick.

Crumb nuggets. Luckily our neighbors keep birds who enjoy bread. I'm sure they pecked away at the first loaf and had a swell time. Guess where all the failed loafs will be going after this?

Looking back, and re-reading the recipe, I now realize I completely disregarded the powdered milk instruction. I carefully measured and leveled my flour, yet forgot powdered milk? You heard it right.

So the first loaf was meh. I hope your first loaf turns out better. Maybe you'll read the recipe and you know, follow the whole thing?

I give this recipe 2 loaves out of 5. Maybe it would have gotten 3 loaves if I hadn't forgotten the milk.

Stay tuned, the first loaf of 2010 will be coming shortly. The new year is just 3 days away!

In the beginning...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Bread making dates back to the Mesopotamia where people first ground wheat into a fine paste, mixed it with water, and cooked it, producing an unleavened bread. this primitive bread making might even date back all the way into the stone age.

From a quick scan of the internet yeast was first cultivated by the Egyptians. Such an inventive time in history. Some scientists think that over 30 types of bread were popular in Ancient Egypt.

Today we have many options for bread at our local supermarket. Name brands packed with preservatives, some lower in calories, stamped with sell by dates that make it last astoundingly long compared with what the Ancient Egyptians dealt with. Bakery and specialty breads selections made fresh that day. Dough frozen, ready to pop in the oven. Dough unfrozen, sealed in strange pressured containers that you pop open like a holiday cracker.

I've decided to try my own hand at it. I have a beautiful farmers market miles from my house. My husbands been gardening and canning. It's time to take the jump into bread making. So we got on craigslist and purchased this  Oster Breadmaker. "I've only used it once, it was a wedding gift." the lady at the door proclaimed. The stickers still on the machine, I believe her. $15 dollars later and The Boy and I are on are way.

So I'm going to turn someone else's trash into my good fortune. Let's see what this puppy can do in 2010!

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