Approximately one month ago, I made my first loaf of bread, and it was a disaster. I killed my yeast, the dough didn’t rise, and when I baked it, the center was raw. I don’t think I have ever failed a bake so miserably in my life, and yet I wanted more. When I produced a much more acceptable loaf the next week, I knew I was hooked.
There’s just something different about baking bread. I think it all has to do with producing an everyday thing- not just a sweet treat for a special occasion. Just this weekend, I made my second loaf of Italian Bread. The first one wasn’t very pretty, but that didn’t stop me from using it in everything. Egg in a basket, garlic bread, toast… It had a purpose everywhere.
And oh my god, the smell! Fresh bread, baking in your oven, makes the your whole house smell like a bakery. The activating yeast, and then the baking afterward.. It brings something in that I can’t describe. It makes the place feel homey, truly homey. It’s a sign that more is coming, that the bread in your oven is full of promises.
The great thing is that it’s more accessible now than it ever was before. Recipe sites like Allrecipes, food network, pinterest, and other sites like mine all have good information to give. If you bake at all, you already have most of what you need. I started without a loaf pan in sight. All I had to buy was yeast. Since then, I’ve gone through flour faster than ever before, but it is always going to something useful.
I highly recommend giving bread baking a try. Here are some of the resources I’ve used for recipes, tips, and tricks.
I can’t stress enough that you need to be prepared to fail, no matter how much you prepare yourself ahead of time. After my initial disaster, I nearly gave up despite really wanting to make my own bread. I wondered if I had the ‘touch’ for it, but we all do. It’s just a matter of learning. Like all food, you have to feel it. You’ll come to know how it’s supposed to look, feel, and smell. It takes a few attempts. You can watch as much GBBO as you want, and it won't really prepare you for a raw dough in your hand.
Every time a loaf comes out looking spectacular, I am so proud of myself. It’s not the same as making dinner, providing a meal for a family. There’s a sense of reward. You coaxed this living thing into making you this. Yeast made your bread, you only helped it along.
An idea born in Normal, Illinois, Eating Normal hopes to chronicle the eating Experiences of a Red bird.
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