I love baking but you probably already picked up on that, didn’t you?
I used to stick to only baking banana bread, zucchini bread, scones, blueberry muffins, and pumpkin bread. And then Thanksgiving came and my life was never the same.
My first attempt at the bread baking thing was rosemary focaccia bread. It had roasted garlic (yumm!) and of course, fresh rosemary and sea salt. It turned out delicious so why stop there, right?
I made an oil dip that had fresh garlic, olive oil, salt & pepper, red pepper flakes, and a tad of cumin. We dipped slices of the focaccia bread in it and ate it like there was no tomorrow. The humanoids were happy. And so was I.
Okay, let’s go back to Thanksgiving…
We had two Friendsgiving dinners to attend. Not on the same day, thank goodness… although that would have been interesting. Anyway! I wanted to try something new so I pulled the trigger and ventured out to make roasted garlic artisan bread for one of the dinners.
Not knowing if I was going to be able to pull that off (baking bread, that is), I bought Hawaiian rolls, just in case.
The day came and I watched that dough more than I watched my children when they were babies and I wanted to be sure they were breathing. Okay, maybe that’s a total exaggeration but you get the idea!
I paid close attention to the dough and the rising times. There was just too much at stake: I could not go down as the guest who ruined dinner because she screwed up the bread. That bread had to be good.
OMG!! Forget the Hawaiian rolls!
This was a success. The loaves turned out perfect! I was overjoyed when I heard the cracking and hollow sounds when I tapped the loaves on the bottom. It was like music.
Once the loaves were cool, I carefully sliced them, wrapped them up in tin foil and popped them in the warm oven for a few minutes until it was time to eat. One of my friends does not eat bread but he spread some butter on it and devoured almost half a loaf!
Since then, I have been baking almost non-stop every weekend. I am no longer nervous. HAHA! That is soooo NOT true! I am still very much freaked out every time I mix yeast, warm water (110° to be exact) and flour.
There is science in here friends. If the water is too hot, it will kill the yeast. If you add too much flour, too much water, too little water, too little oil, a single misstep can ruin your loaf (unless you are a master baker and if you are… please teach me!). And then the hours you spent mixing and kneading and waiting for your dough to rise go out the window.
I am just an amateur baker but I want to learn more and more about it. I bake because it brings me joy. I bake because it’s a personal challenge.
One day, I tried making artisan potato bread. It was good. The humanoids liked it despite how misshapen it was (see picture “First attempt at artisan potato bread”).
Given that my first try at the potato bread turned out okay, I made a bold decision to try and bake potato bread using whole wheat flour.
I was a little nervous about how it was going to turn out. You see, when you bake with whole wheat flour, you should know what you are doing. I didn’t. I still know nothing, zero, nada. Whole wheat flour is more dense than regular all purpose flour. It is heavy and therefore it can dramatically changed the outcome of your bread.
You can see the difference from my first attempt at baking artisan potato bread with all purpose flour and my second attempt with whole wheat flour. Even the color is different, not to mention the shape… I mean, I think I did much better the second time around!
These loaves… they were right on spot! They had texture, flavor, and that freshly baked scent that took over the living room the minute you popped them out of the oven. I was dancing with the loaves… hahaha – get it? Dancing with the wolves? (trying too hard? Probably!)
I continue to challenge myself with new recipes from Baking with Julia’s cookbook. But… the kids always get to pick what I bake so we’ll see what they have planned for me this weekend.
See you soon!