Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Breaking Bread

I have never made yeasted bread, per se. I have made bagels*, focaccia, pie crust, and pizza dough. I am competent with phyllo dough, which is the bane of some cooks. Cheesecakes and custards are not a problem.

Last Christmas, I bought myself a KitchenAid mixer, pronouncing that it was because I wanted to foray into the bread arena. Eleven months later and we have my first attempt, ironically with a recipe that calls for mixing the dough by hand.

I have been following Farmgirl's blog and testing her recipes for months now. Savory Tomato Pesto Pie made regular summertime appearances in our household. I've turned at least one friend on to Beyond Easy Beer Bread, of which I made multiples and wrote about in this post. We recently finished up the frozen last of it. I feel certain that the recipe for Farmgirl's Crazy Cookies will be passed down to my future generations. "Where did this recipe come from? I don't know...some crazy Farmgirl that grandma knew."

So it is with not-the-utmost of confidence but definitely the highest-of-hopes that I decided to cut my teeth on Farmgirl's Oatmeal Toasting Bread. Literally and figuratively.

700 am: caffeine, check. optimistic exuberance, check. tired? yeah, that too.

Stirring the flour into the dough.
Hey Farmgrrrl, remind me and my shoulder why we are not using
the KitchenAid mixer? Oh yeah, mixers are for Citygirls.

The dough is rested.

Okay, so far so good, but after the first rise is where things got tricky and my confidence began to wane. There was this business about stretching the dough "to form a rectangle with a short side facing you" which I simply could not conceptualize. Short side facing me--what does that mean? And what size should it be, what thickness? About the time I was supposed to be making an envelope with the dough, I started to panic.

Nothing to do but keep your composure and press on. Here are the results of my envelope folding.

From L to R: too short, too long, and too ragged.

Not beautiful, but the oven forgives,
it tastes fantastic, and practice will make perfect!

*Bagels, in my opinion, are not worth the effort. Particularly when you can make a short trip to the local Bruegger's or Einstein's for a far better product in less time.


farmgirl said...

Well done, you! I'm so glad you liked the bread, and I'm just tickled you chose to bake your first loaves using my recipe. A mighty fine first effort, if I do say so myself. (And trust me, shaping the loaves does get easier with practice.)

I'm thrilled, too, that you've enjoyed my other recipes so much. LOL, I loved the Crazy Cookies comment. Thanks for taking the time to post your experience and leave me the link. Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Baking to you! : )

Liz said...

Hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving. I think your bread turned out beautifully! I used to just make bread in my breadmaker machine and it's been a long time since I've done that. One of these days!

Kate said...

farmgirl, good news about the shaping, but I wasn't ready to give up. I always know I have a winning recipe from you!

Liz, you need to bust out that bread machine!