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Baking bread

March 28, 2022

I bought a bread machine a few months ago and have been busy making a lot of bread. The bread was ok, but there was a problem with the kneading paddle taking out a chunk of bread when removing the baked loaf. I found I could remove the dough from the pan after the second rise and pull out the kneading paddle and then put the shaped back into the pan for the final rise (my machine has three rises and I guess some have two? I have no idea…) and that worked much better. Unfortunately, ‘much better’ wasn’t great because I wasn’t still had a hole in the bottom (aesthetics count!) and I wasn’t happy with the crusts.

I also wasn’t having much fun making these loaves of bread because it didn’t really, at least to my new-bread-making-person’s way of thinking, require much skill. You add the recipe ingredients to the pan in the order shown in the recipe, press a couple of buttons, walk away, and come back in three-and-a-half hours and eat bread. The process reminded me of washing clothes. And actually, I thought, washing clothes required more involvement because you have to return and put the washed clothes into the dryer.

I tried the ‘dough’ cycle on the machine. That let the machine do the heavy lifting and I got to take out the kneaded dough and shape it and top it and bake it in an actual pan in the oven. That got me to the point where I had a bread that actually looked like a loaf of bread instead of a block of bread, and I felt more involved in the process. And maybe it was my imagination, but I thought the bread tasted better.

So while this was all good, I still wasn’t happy because I wanted to be more involved in the process: I wanted to bake bread, not simply make bread.

I read some and figured that I could take the next step and forego the machine. I could bake bread. I could mix the ingredients and the dough. I could knead. I could rise. I could shape and proof. People have been doing it for like 10,000 years so why can’t I? And how difficult can it be?

So that’s what I did yesterday. I baked bread. I baked the Our Favorite Sandwich Bread recipe from the King Arthur Baking Company website. I chose that recipe because it was basic and because they used peanut butter in their picture and because they have a great website.

It was fun. I learned I that I don’t have to just make bread, but that I can bake bread. learned I can do what people have been doing for 10,000 years, and I learned that it can be a little difficult. Not difficult to do – although the kneading is a bit of a mini shoulder workout – but difficult in the sense that there are a lot of things to learn to make sure all parts of the process work and that you get a bread that slices and doesn’t fall apart. Or have holes or separations. That has a nice crust. The picture below is what I got.

While I’m not feeling 100% jubilant* with my result (I want to adjust to focus on the crust next time), it’s still bread and it’s edible and it tastes pretty good. And I feel excited that I’m looking forward to a ‘next time’.

*Word of the Day Challenge word = jubilant.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. March 28, 2022 9:22 am

    Home-baked bread is so much better than easy store-bought. And you get that lovely yeasty scent all over your home as a bonus!

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 31, 2022 7:28 am

      I know! You can smell it everywhere but then you go into the kitchen and it’s like a Ray Liotta in Field of Dreams moment and you wonder if it’s heaven. (Thankfully it’s just the kitchen and fresh bread and not Iowa)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. March 28, 2022 10:12 am

    Waaay too much trouble for me, but your bread does look good!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. March 28, 2022 3:34 pm

    Your bread looks very good.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. March 28, 2022 8:06 pm

    I’ve had a Cuisinart read machine for a few years. I also have become frustrated with the paddle and the odd loaf shape. It’s not to hard just to manually make the dough, and I think my machine is going to the Salvation army as a donation.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Judy (Andersen) Hogan permalink
    March 29, 2022 9:11 am

    We’ve had two bread machines at different times. Both times, years apart, it became more apparent that, yes, a square of bread is less desirable than a true loaf (won’t fit in toaster), and there are more parts/pieces to wash. As you’ve found out, the satisfaction is in doing the work. We have a dough hook on our mixer,
    but that’s where mechanics end. There are just some things better done “the old way”. I applaud your experimentation!

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 31, 2022 8:16 am

      Thanks Judy! The worst part for me was using a spoon to mix the dough so I bought a dough whisk this week and hope to try that out this weekend.


  6. April 1, 2022 10:30 pm

    I had the same experience. What’s funny is I didn’t enjoy the homemade bread much because it tasted too much like cheap store varieties. I’ve been wondering how to make mine like Great Harvest Bread Company.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 10, 2022 6:41 am

      I haven’t noticed anything I’ve made tasting bad, or like the store breads, it’s just the texture that I’m wrestling with. I think it’s because I add too much flour when kneading? I also like Great Harvest Bread Company and you gave me a great idea because I just googled and found some GHBC copycat recipes!

      Liked by 1 person

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