Yesterday was a big day for me.
A huge day.
I made my first loaf of homemade bread.
I literally went from this…
in a matter of a few hours.
Yeah, I know, I know. Baking bread is not a new concept. Big whoop. I mean, half the women in my church know how to do this. My former neighbor and (not former) friend does it. All of my adoptive mommy friends from Atlanta know this mysterious art. And Sara Lee makes a gojillion loaves every day. She’s super special.
But for me, this is a giant feat of epic proportions. You see, I have always been scared of baking bread like this. Yeast and I have never gotten along. Up until now, I had never studied yeast, and therefore didn’t understand it’s properties, perfect water temperatures for proofing, how long to let something yeasty rise, etc. We were not friends in real life, nor did we have a relationship on Facebook.
Well, yeast and I are friends now, thanks to this great gal, Lori Viets, and her simple (and funny) book, No More Bricks. Her book is easy to read, is helpful in understanding things like yeast and gluten, and gives lots of recipes that are easy to follow. She takes you from the first steps of grinding wheat, all the way to the end, baby.
Yes, I realize that I’m super dorky, now that I grind my own wheat. No offense to you wheat-grinders out there. But I have learned that grinding wheat berries and then using them immediately for baking, makes your bread loaded with protein and fiber, and not carbs. Oh, those evil carbs.
So, grind, I shall.
I have to admit, I was nervous to start my first bread-baking session. I think I had built it up in my brain to be a bigger deal than it actually was. I got a wheat grinder for my birthday, and it was sitting in its box in my bedroom floor for days and days. I wouldn’t even take it out to look at it.
(here it is, in all it’s splendor)
And then I had to wait for all the other vital bread-making items to arrive in the mail. I unboxed them and sat them on my counter to stare at me all week.
And then yesterday was the big day. I had put it off long enough.
I ground the wheat, measured the ingredients and started a’mixin.
And looked super-Betty-Crocker whilst doing it.
And then I switched to the dough hook on my mixer…and posed some more.
And then it happened.
My faithful ol’ Kitchen Aid mixer stopped kneading in low gear. Something apparently snapped, and it kicked up into a high gear, making my dough crawl all the way up the dough hook and onto all the red parts.
I broke my mixer.
And then I knew I would have to do what I dreaded most.
Knead by hand.
I have no idea how to do this except for what I’ve seen Ma do on Little House on the Prairie.
But I didn’t want to waste what I had done so far. So I plopped my big wad of dough of the counter and started folding and pushing. That sounds weird.
I kneaded the dookie out of that dough for 10 whole minutes.
(I just said “dookie” on my blog)
I actually broke out into a sweat.
And then it was finally time to shape the dough into loaves. The gluten was…um…gluten-ized (that’s a technical term), and ready for rising.
I cut the dough into thirds, pounded the snot out of them to get all the air out, shaped ‘em up, and plopped them into their pans.
Then I covered them and waited for them to rise.
And then I waited some more.
And some more…
…and even some more.
And then it happened. Those crazy loaves finally rose to the appropriate height.
It was a Christmas miracle.
I popped those beauties in the oven and the house smelled like a yummy bakery. Since I’ve never baked bread, I’ve never had this smell in my house before. I think this is what Heaven will smell like. I even dragged my neighbor over so she and I could sit and bask in the aroma.
When the loaves were finally a perfect 190 degrees, I pulled them out of the oven and put them on their baking racks. I had to hold back the tears.
There they were. My first loaves of bread.
And they weren’t falling apart or sinking in on themselves. They were actually pretty good lookin’.
And super tasty. (butter is my favorite food group, people…dont’ judge)
I got the thumbs up from Lucas,
and my neighbor,
and even all the kids.
I may or may not have had 4 slices yesterday.
I can’t wait to make my next batch. I’m hoping to become much more efficient.