Saturday, January 28, 2023

Jonesing for bread

| December 7, 2022 7:55 AM

I made myself a loaf of bread the other day.

The wife and kid were away for a couple of days and I just had a craving for homemade bread. It’s not overly difficult to make a loaf of bread, but the best loaves take patience, which a lot of people don’t have.

There is nothing better than a hot slice of homemade bread.

In this case, I made the bread one morning, let it rise, then put it in a pan and into the fridge because I didn’t have the time that evening for a good second rise, nevermind baking it.

The bake alone takes more than an hour after you preheat the oven.

I didn’t know what to expect, but the next morning the dough had risen in the pan, even in the fridge, to a plump, but a bit uneven loaf.

My instinct said to take it out, let the dough warm up thoroughly and perhaps rise a bit more, but I was hungry for bread so I popped it in the oven still cold.

It came out a bit more dense than I would have liked, but it still tastes good. Like I said, patience makes good bread.

This particular loaf is made with whole milk and honey. If I followed the recipe to the letter it would also have butter. But that’s more fat than an old guy like me needs, so I substitute the whole milk for skim and some olive oil for the butter.

It still makes a tasty loaf.

Another bread I frequently make has beer in it. It only has a little yeast and the beer probably adds some as well, but I suspect you could also make it with just water, it would just have a little less flavor.

That bread takes a good two days to make. To bake it you heat up a Dutch oven to 500 degrees and then carefully place the loaf in the pot with parchment paper. Turn down the oven a 100 degrees and bake with the lid on for half the time, then finish it with the lid off the other half.

It makes a crusty loaf with lots of air bubble holes. It’s very chewy and great with soup or to sponge up gravy. It’s also the sort of recipe you have to be very careful with, or you’ll sear the skin off your hands.

Really good bakers have excellent ovens that control the temperature evenly and inject steam into the baking process. They cost as much as a good used car, however.

I make do with my old gas oven which has a hot spot in the left hand corner.

The real joy of baking bread is when you walk into the house and smell the freshly-baked loaf.

It means you’re home.

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