|Freshly Baked Bread|
First of all, thank you, everyone, for your kind comments about my patchwork and quilting efforts.
Yesterday, when the weather forecast said it will be cooler on Thursday, with a high of only 90F, I told my daughter that I might try baking some bread, again, because I had finished the loaf of bread I had bought when I did my grocery shopping, earlier this month. I usually don't bake in the summer, but, with the window a/c in place, I had the option of retreating to the bedroom and turning on the a/c if the rest of the house got too hot with the oven on.
I will start off with saying I am not a confident bread baker. I have made bread from scratch a few times but, it is always a bit of an experiment where I am concerned.
To begin with, the yeast - remember when I couldn't buy any yeast at all during the first lockdown? I had a couple of expired packets of yeast and I was not sure if they will work. By the time my daughter was able to find some yeast to order online for me, the initial lockdown was over and the whole home made bread during the pandemic movement had passed me by! Anyway, I was able to buy some yeast, after all, and I had it all stored in a container in the cabinet (although, I guess you are supposed to store it in the freezer?!)
So, today, I reached into the container and took out one of the packets of active dry yeast. Now, the first thing any bread making recipes say is check the date of expiry on the yeast. If it has expired, they say toss it out and start with yeast that has not expired. I turned over my packet of yeast to check the expiration date: December 2016!!! Um...toss it out? No way! I decided to proof it to see if the yeast was any good - I warmed up 1/2 cup of water and sprinkled the yeast on top, covered it and kept it aside for about 5 minutes:
|Proofing the Yeast|
Yay! That yeast was bubbling away and seemed very much alive to me!
The next step, according to the instructions in my cookbook was to warm up 2 1/2 cups of milk. Um...I didn't have milk, but, I did have some half and half that needed to be used up! We'll have extra rich bread! I had 2 cups of half and half and I added 1/2 cup of water to make up the needed quantity, entirely forgetting the 1/2 cup water I used to proof the yeast! No matter. Our air is so dry, here, anyway, that a little extra liquid would not be a problem. I'll just add a little extra flour if necessary. The recipe said to use 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 cups of all purpose flour, using as much as was needed to make a moderately firm dough. I kneaded the dough by hand and set it aside to rise:
|The Kneaded Dough|
My "warm place" was the dining room table. I was supposed to leave it covered until the dough doubled in size. I checked on the dough 45 minutes later:
I sent the picture to my daughter and texted, "I think it's doubled, don't you?" She agreed.
The next step was to punch it down, tip it out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into two. I forgot to punch it down until I had it on the pastry sheet! But, I was able to use the new pastry scraper my daughter had given me to divide the dough!
It needed to rest for 10 minutes before being shaped into loaves and put into two greased loaf pans and kept for a second rise; the recipe said not to let it rise too far above the top of the rim of the pans. This is how my dough looked after about 30 minutes:
|After the Second Rising|
I baked them in a 375F oven for 35 minutes, covering the tops of the loaves with foil for the last 15 minutes. I cooled them just long enough for me to be able to hold one of the loaves to slice into it!
Sorry, the kitchen light caused it to appear yellow, but, it is white bread. Maybe the texture of the bread is a bit dense; maybe it could have risen a bit more?
|Delicious with Butter|
But, it was absolutely delicious, spread with a little butter, while it was still warm! I had the second slice with some warmed up dhal curry.
I'm keeping one loaf for use this week. I sliced the second loaf and froze it in smaller packages, with 4 or 6 slices per package; that way, I can take out one package and have enough bread for a couple of meals, as needed, without worrying about the rest of the loaf getting stale.
Of course, by the time I finished baking the bread, the kitchen was a disaster zone! I have four mixing bowls of different sizes and I managed to dirty all four of them! There was flour on the kitchen counters, flour on the dining table where I kneaded the dough, dirty dishes in the sink, the used bread pans on the stove, and, after I sliced the bread, crumbs everywhere! But, I washed the dishes - some by hand, some in the dishwasher, and restored some order. My hand started to cramp when I was rinsing out the last plate, but, it was fine afterwards.
In addition to making bread, I checked on Mama Cat in the morning, and she seemed a lot better, today, actually sitting out in the open and following me to the food bowl. I gave her more food and water, again, in the evening, too.
My half-sister called in the morning and a short time after that, cousin V called. Later in the afternoon, while I was waiting for the bread dough to rise for the first time, neighbor T's daughter K called. She said she, her brother, and T were at the house! They had stopped by the house before going to the assisted living facility to pick up a few items that T will need, including some clothes and her recliner chair! She said T would love to see me if I could come over! So, of course, I masked up and went over to say Hi to T! But, before I went, I picked the last of the sunflowers (some of the smaller ones along the main stem were still flowering) and arranged them in a small vase that I had, along with some fern fronds, to take over. Sunflowers are T's favorite flowers and she was so happy to receive them. Her daughter said they will take the flowers with them to T's room at the assisted living facility. T looked well and I'm sure she was happy that both her children were there with her. I told her I'll be calling her to resume our Sunday morning chats, once she's settled at the facility. I didn't stay long, visiting, just 5 minutes at the most (I wore my mask, but, of course, they weren't wearing masks), but, it was nice of K to let me know that I could see T and it was lovely to see her. I'm not sure what visiting protocols are at the facility, but, I'll probably not go to see T, there, because of Covid concerns.
After baking my bread and having some of it for a late lunch, I took a nap! Afterwards, I cleaned up the kitchen, chatted with friend R, and video chatted with my daughter. Dinner was another slice or two of my bread, with chicken curry. Some mango for dessert.
Today, I am grateful for:
- Being able to make bread! The yeast actually worked!
- Phone calls with family and friends
- Getting to see T for a few minutes
- Flowers from the garden
- Afternoon naps
Today's joyful activities included visiting T and baking bread.
With the bread making and visiting, etc., I didn't get around to finishing the vacuuming. So, that's on the agenda for tomorrow!
How was your Thursday? What are your plans for Friday? Do you generally bake your own bread? If so, do you have any tips on bread baking to share?
Yay! Well done to the bread making! I'm hopeless at making bread by hand, the finished result usually makes a good door stop, so I use my breadmaker. I love the smell produced when it's cooking.ReplyDelete
Today we are going over to our daughter's house to water her garden as she's on holiday and has some tomato plants to look after. It will make a pleasant change of scene for us.
Have a wonderful day Bless x
Thank you, Pensive! That "door stop" bread was how my very first attempt at making bread turned out! After that, I didn't even try making bread for several years! I'd buy the frozen dough and be happy with that. But, I've always wanted to make bread from scratch and I keep trying! I don't have a breadmaker, but, I'm glad that you have one and you use it. :)Delete
I hope you've had a safe trip to your daughter's house and back; it's very nice of you to water her garden for her when she's gone. Hope her tomato plants do better than mine did!
I laughed at your bread makingReplyDelete
adventure! I'm glad the yeast was still good and it all worked out. It looks delicious. Fresh, warm bread is so good! I've probably only made bread a half dozen times in my life, and not once within the last twenty years. Very good news about neighbor T. Hopefully she'll be home again soon. Also glad to hear mama cat seems to be doing better. I hope you have a great day, and a little cooler!
Glad you enjoyed my bread making adventure! I certainly enjoyed the end results of the adventure! :D Next, I want to try making bread using the whey from my yogurt making for at least part of the liquid. :)Delete
I was very happy to see T again and she really looked quite well.
As for Mama Cat, she actually showed up at my back door this morning for her food! I was SO happy! After that, she disappeared again, which is what she does, but, I am no longer worried about her. :)
Thank you, Celie; it's much cooler, today (of course it would be cooler, now that I have the a/c set up!) Hope you have a good day, too. Take care.
I'm glad you were able to see T for a few minutes and it was so kind of you to give her the sunflowers.ReplyDelete
The bread looks yummy! Ced used to make all our bread before he became ill, using a bread maker though, not making it by hand. There's something special about homemade bread isn't there? I haven't made any since I've been on my own but the possibility of getting another bread maker is up for consideration next year.
It was good to see T again. I thought she'd appreciate the flowers. If the bread had been ready, I might have taken a loaf over to them, but, I had just started the process and they had already left by the time the bread was baked.Delete
There is definitely something special about homemade bread. And, provided there is flour and yeast, etc., it gives one a sense of self-sufficiency! I'll still buy bread from the store, of course, but, the homemade bread seemed more satisfying. :)
I hope you will be able to get another bread maker, next year; in the meantime, have you considered making it by hand?
I made it at home during my teenage years. Mum was a cook and taught me. I think I'd find it difficult now because of the arthritis in my hands.Delete
Oh, sorry, I keep forgetting about your arthritis! I know you've mentioned it before. Most probably your hands won't thank you for kneading dough!Delete
Your bread looks very tasty. Good for you for testing your yeast & not throwing it out. I haven't tried making bread other than beer bread. I would like a bread maker but if I did have one, I'd make fresh bread daily & eat every day ... & eat every day!! (lol)ReplyDelete
Thank you, Mary-Lou. Well, I was reluctant to throw the yeast without trying to see if I could use it. I've made beer bread, but, I didn't like the taste too much (I don't drink beer, in the first place; but, had some bottles of beer leftover after a party); I took the bread to the office and my colleagues enjoyed it! :D Yes, well, one is tempted to eat more bread if it is freshly made! I've already eaten about half the loaf of bread I made! LOL.Delete
Your bread looks wonderful! I would probably be tempted to eat at least half of one of those loaves straight away! I had some old yeast at the beginning of the pandemic and I found it worked when I tested it, too. Yours is obviously very good still. Mama cat sounds okay.ReplyDelete
I'm glad you were able to see your neighbour before she settles in to her assisted living facility.
I was busy doing laundry and washing floors this morning but I didn't do much in the afternoon. DH and I took an impromptu walk down to the river and enjoyed seeing the ducks and ducklings.
Thank you, Bushlady. I'm making inroads into the loaf of bread! I shared a couple of slices with M, today. I remember you saying you tried some old yeast and it worked well for you!Delete
I'm very glad I got to see T before she went to the assisted living facility. As for Mama Cat, she seems to be back to her usual self again! :)
You had a very busy morning! I'm glad you took a break and walked to the river with DH to see the ducks and ducklings. :) When does he leave on his trip?
Oh yum! It's been so long since I made home made bread. It really is delicious though. I have a breadmaker too. You've really got me thinking about pulling it down off the shelf and making a loaf next week!ReplyDelete
Thank you, Sharon; I think you should make a loaf of bread, especially if you have a breadmaker! There is something very satisfying about having a slice of homemade bread! :)Delete
I bet the bread smelled wonderful when it came out of the oven! Just as well you didn't dump the yeast. I keep mine in the fridge and have noticed it is usually still fine way past the expiry date. Haven't heard of freezing it though. I have had another go at making yoghurt, because sister didn't get to try any of the last lot. Unfortunately after our recent rain, the air had cooled quite a lot and when I went in the loft, it was only 27C. So I wrapped the jars in towels, put them in a plastic bag and left them in the airing cupboard overnight. The yoghurt was fine, but not as beauifully set as the first lot, so I was disappointed but sister loves it anyway. This batch has generated loads of whey but I don't think I can be bothered to use it for bread. I made bread last week (in a breadmaker) and that will do for now. Mum uses yoghurt to make the pastry for her samosas etc, so I am familiar with the concept.ReplyDelete
It did smell good when it came out of the oven! I think I will do as you do and store the yeast in the fridge. Glad your second batch of yogurt still turned out fine and your sister enjoyed it. :)Delete
There is nothing like home made bread. I could almost taste your buttered slice. Like most everyone else here, I've only made bread a few times by hand, but have a breadmaker I use on occasion. We don't eat a lot of bread here, so I'm not tempted to make it very much.ReplyDelete
I enjoyed the process of making it, June, and I admit it gave me a sense of accomplishment. I still need to work on improving the texture of the finished product, but, I think I'll wait until it is cooler to do more baking! Having a breadmaker is good, too, especially in the summer, when you don't want to have the oven on, heating up the entire place! :)Delete
My mouth is watering at the very sight of those loaves. Nicely done!ReplyDelete
Thank you, Susanne. I tried it toasted, for breakfast, this morning, and it was even better toasted!Delete
What a fun post to read :). Your bread looks delicious.ReplyDelete
You were smart to pack it up like you did for the freezer.
I enjoyed hearing about your bread making. Your yeast is very energetic!
I'm like you and don't store my yeast in the frig either.
I split a large block of it with a friend a few years ago and I store it in the Tupperware container I've always stored it in in my cabinet. It hasn't gone bad so far. lol - I'm sure it's beyond expiration.
But I just proof it like you do and Poof! I'm good to go.
I do also keep a few packets on hand in case my main batch does loose it's spark.
And how nice that you got to see T. It sounds like she is getting stronger. Hopefully she will be home soon.
I'm sure the sunflowers brightened her room.
I laughed when you described your kitchen mess. You had a nice busy day - no wonder you needed a nap :)
Glad you enjoyed the post Debra. I can cook just one thing and have a messy kitchen, afterwards! I'm glad the yeast seemed fine and I guess I will just continue to proof it each time I use it. I only have the packets. The 4 oz. container of yeast ($5.49) is unavailable, according to the Kroger store website; the 3 x 0.25@ packets are $5.99! I will need to look elsewhere for yeast!Delete
The bread looks delicious! I baked some myself this week.ReplyDelete
I hope T is settled in by now. Xx
The bread was good, although it turned a bit dry towards the end (but, that might be more due to our weather than my baking skills!) I'm sure your bread turned out well, too.Delete
T seems to have settled in, nicely (I spoke with her over the weekend).