big day

Yesterday was a big day for me.

A huge day.

I made my first loaf of homemade bread.

I literally went from this…

…to 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.

Dang it.

I broke my mixer.

Argh.

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.

Also…neater.

Steve @ ProPhoto Blogs - December 19, 2011 - 3:23 pm

Mmmm, that looks delish!

Stacy - December 19, 2011 - 4:08 pm

You are hysterical!!! That looks SOOOO yumm-o!!!

heidi - December 19, 2011 - 4:39 pm

so proud.

Shelly - December 19, 2011 - 8:11 pm

I have found that the bread rises faster and better when you’re not sitting around staring at it. Also, I hope you washed your hands after picking your nose before you went back to baking? But still, I am proud of you. Welcome to the Team :-)

Elle Bee - December 19, 2011 - 8:49 pm

I use a bread machine. Looking at your loaves–a bread machine just seems sinful now. You can bet I’m leaving this page by typing “wheat grinder” into the search bar.

Amie - December 20, 2011 - 12:42 am

YEAH!!! Dude- those are some purdy loaves!! ESPECIALLY for your first batch!! WOO HOO! ps. ummmm….. f. y. to the i……. you might find that these freshly baked loaves made from freshly ground wheat berries, may pass through a little faster than your grocery store processed loaves. just sayin’. be warned. :)

Vicki Hogan - December 20, 2011 - 8:22 am

You must ask Santa for a Bosch! You will love it and it makes bread so quick and easy! Also, your bread will rise quicker if you put it in the oven. Slide your bread in and turn your oven on at 350 degrees for one minute. Then turn it off and leave your bread alone and don’t open the door (don’t cover with cloth). I’ve been grinding my grains and making bread for 2 years now and I found it to be a learning process. I’m still trying to succeed at making dinner rolls…you would think it easy???? But I love making bread…At first we ate so quickly that I was making it all the time…now, we can control ourselves a bit more…although a fresh baked slice is still to die for! And, yes! With B.U.T.T.E.R.! Where did you order your grains? I have used Pleasant Hills Farms. It’s also where I purchased my Wonder Mill and Bosch.

I’m so proud of you!

Julia - December 20, 2011 - 1:55 pm

I have several questions about your Ugandan adoption. Is there a way for me to email you? Thanks for your blog! It has been very very helpful!

Nicole - December 20, 2011 - 5:16 pm

What a feat! (For real!) My first – and last – bread making attempt almost put me in tears a couple of years ago, and I’ve yet to take the plunge again. Anyway, I was hoping to email you with a couple of quick questions; we are a military family starting the process to adopt from Uganda, and there are some military-specific things I’d love to get some input on, if you wouldn’t mind. I’m not sure if your email address is listed anywhere here, but if it is I am apparently not bright enough to find it… :)

Colleen - December 20, 2011 - 6:34 pm

I’ve been drooling over the Bosch for awhile now. I might have to give myself an early Christmas 2012 gift. :) I tried another batch today and flour went everywhere when I turned the mixer on…it doesn’t know slow anymore. Boo. I didn’t know you milled/baked bread!!! I knew we were kindred spirits! It’s hard to resist a warm slice of bread, all slathered in butter. Mmmmmmmm.

I get my grain from a local organic farmer. You KNOW I live in the wheat capital of the world! It was $35 for 50 pounds of organic berries (25, red and 25, white). Is that a good price?

I wish there was some random 25% off coupon for Bosch. Do you think that will ever exist??? :)

Kelly Raudenbush - December 20, 2011 - 9:12 pm

Oh man, you crack me up. I consider making my own bread thawing frozen bread dough and watching that rise and then bake. You have gone from here (picture me with my hand up around my eyes) to here (hand up over my head for sure).

Brian - December 21, 2011 - 8:46 pm

Wyatt and I think grinding your own wheat made the list of Stuff White people like. Probably around #5, just behind moleskin notebooks and Brita filters. Just kiddin you know. Your’e awesome.

Joy - December 21, 2011 - 9:29 pm

The bread looks fantastic, but not as fantastic as yo hair, girlie!!! Love the golden wheat-like glimmer.

I fondly remember my first day of crackin’ that wheat berry! I think I baked for 18 hours straight!!

http://www.thefruitfulfamily.com/2011/03/just-call-me-pilsbury-dough-boy.html

http://www.thefruitfulfamily.com/2011/03/novice.html

Welcome to the club!

Colleen - December 21, 2011 - 9:31 pm

Ahaha!!! You’re so right…maybe we should email the author of that site.

Briana - December 31, 2011 - 10:10 am

What a cute post! Oh muh goodness! Doesn’t kneading dough introduce you to muscles you never knew you had? And only in a few minutes!

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