Monday, February 27, 2012

Baking Bread

Wash on Monday
Iron on Tuesday
Bake on Wednesday
Brew on Thursday
Churn on Friday
Mend on Saturday
Go to meeting on Sunday
~ Old Nursery Rhyme

Give us this Day our Daily Bread~ Matthew 6:11

Well today is Monday and I guess my schedule of things doesn't conform to the old nursery rhyme.  But then again I don't churn or brew or iron for that matter.  No need to iron.  I try and buy wrinkle-free garments.  But I'm trying my hand at baking.

There comes a point in every primary chef of the domestic church's role (be it dad or mom) that you have to stretch out your culinary wings.  And I have come to that point.  I can make brownies from scratch.  I can make sweet breads from scratch.  And I can cook pretty decently from scratch, but I struggle with all things yeast.

So why am I teaching myself how to bake bread?  Well numerous reasons.  I'm having to teach myself because neither my MIL or my mother bake bread on a consistent basis.  My MIL is big into cooking, but alas I did not grow up under her tutelage nor do I live close enough to start one.  My mom never really tried to get me to cook anything.  It's not that she discouraged it, but I wasn't all that interested in learning.  I usually just watched whatever she happened to be making which normally wasn't bread or any deserts for that matter.  I should also mention that I don't take pleasure from cooking normally.  It's a lot of work particularly with a hungry, crying baby and a toddler under foot in a small, tiny kitchen.  But Hubby hates cooking more than I do.  And since I'm the domestic in this domestic church, the job of cooking falls to me.

The other reasons for baking bread are two fold.  One, it's more economical.  You can find cheap bread with horrid ingredients or expensive bread with not much better ingredients.  Our bread has to be shelf-stable for long periods of time so there's a lot crap in there to make it stay tasting good.  However, it's far cheaper to buy the ingredients for baking bread yourself.  All you need is a packet of dry, active yeast, some sort of flour, butter, water, sugar, salt, and some sort of bread pan.  Of course having a pair of hands comes in handy, and you can always add other ingredients to make different types of flavor to the bread.

Speaking of health, the next one is health reasons.  I'm trying to weed out my family's (ah hem Hubby and HB's) obsession with all things processed.  Hubby loves potato chips and HB is into well...that rotates lately it's chips.  I figure if I can start making whole foods then I'll be doing my family a favor later down the road.  I've already been making pop corn on the stove.  Unfortunately I can't avoid the processed foods entirely (heck, most everything in a store has been processed.  even milk has be pasteurized.)  But I can avoid the convenience foods and limit them to a few things once a month.  When I was single I didn't consume chips or soda.  I tried to pick health foods, but looking back I could have done more.  I would love to be able to take the 10 day challenge here, but realistically I have to wean the family off of their current favs. 

So without further ado, the baking....I kill things.  Unless it tells me that it's hungry as in the cries of my cats, my infant, or the pleading of my toddler or the grumbling of my hubby, then I tend to forget to feed it.  So I am a plant killer and have learned that I'm also a fungus killer as well.

Baking is relatively easy.  You mix stuff together, let it sit, kneed it, and bake it.  Simple.  The true issue with yeast-based breads is that you have to not kill the yeast.  There is one of two ways that one can destroy yeast: place it in a cold environment or a hot one.  And with active dry yeast you need to add water and that water must be lukewarm or slightly, ever so slightly warmer.  I've figured that out the hard way.  I've been killing a lot of yeast.  So now I'm just sitting out the water at room temperature or turning on the faucet mid-way.  And you want to proof the yeast, that is give it something to eat (sugar in this case) to make sure it's active (that is still alive).  If the yeast mixture of sugar, water, and yeast doubles in size over ten minutes, you haven't killed your yeast yet.  It also helps that it bubbles and even makes a crispy bubbly sound when you add it to the flour and other stuff.

Hey, I'm learning.  And it's an almost religious experience.  The Bible is chock full of references to bread because that is humanity's dietary staple.  Even Jesus comes to us in the vision and flavor of bread (Luke 22:19) as he explained at the Last Supper.  This is totally fitting since as I mentioned bread is humanity's dietary staple and Jesus is humanity's staple as well.  But as I was kneading my loaf, I also pictured Mary, the head of the culinary end of the Holy Family, kneading her loaves of bread.  Somehow being so connected to women throughout the world, including Mary the epitome of motherhood, made it seem like baking bread was the thing to do.

So how did my first attempt at baking bread go?  Well, Hubby's not too sure it will work for sandwiches (probably need a whole wheat recipe for that), but it sure was tasty with our meal tonight.  Hubby remarked that I'm well on my way to being a domestic 50s icon, well enough to never have to work away from home again.  (Although he took that statement back when he thought about money.)  I suppose it doesn't hurt that I've also implemented phase two of my evil plan to eradicate processed foods ie. pack Hubby's lunch.  Hopefully, picky Hubs will like his "orange" meal. What did HB, my finicky child, think?  He gobbled his piece of bread up.  Course you can see for yourself too.
Yummy! No?
I think in future I will make Mondays my baking days- not just for bread but for other goodies too.  My next attempt at all things yeasty will be homemade pretzels.  Pretzels are traditional during Lent.  I'll have to share with you my progress.

1 comment:

  1. Good luck! I tried baking bread on Mondays and hasn't gone over very well yet lol. I like the idea though. Going to attempt another loaf tomorrow. Kinda have too... we're out already :-/

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