232. For some, the thought of making home baked bread is a daunting task. For others, they have taken on the challenge and the finished product just didn't seem to measure up to their expectation.
Bread baking is not easy. For many years I would tackle bread recipe after bread recipe and just could not accomplish a stellar result. Now, my mother and grandmother were fantastic bread bakers. But what I realized, through trial and error, TIME is the most important factor along with the right touch. A good baker just knows when the dough feels right or just the right time to stop kneading and let the dough rest. I have always been impatient in the process.
I guess this can be a good life lesson as well. We are in a hurry, not willing to wait in our efforts, till our circumstances have fully taught us. We want the hard times to disappear and the happy, stress free days to roll on. But it is in the difficult, "kneading" times, that we learn the best lessons. Would I want my life to be a continual kneading process...no! Would anyone? But when I look back over the times my life was filled with difficulty, I realize, it was for my good! I am a stronger person, wiser, more stable and determined than before. I am thankful for the "kneading" process.
So, why am I still tackling bread recipes? I have a wonderful secret and friend...my bread machine. Because our lives are so busy and full, and time is fleeting faster every day. I use my bread machine to make the dough for me. It has eliminated the most difficult step in the bread baking process. I admit...I can not make a good bread dough due to my impatience. The bread machine helps me to accomplish more.
When I use my bread machine, the key is to place all the liquid ingredients and salt in first; water, egg, butter, oil, etc. Then flour, yeast and sugar last. I take into consideration the size of my bread machine and I know that I can only place about 5 cups of anything into the cylinder.
I set the menu to the "dough" setting and push start. An hour and a half later, I have beautiful dough to make bread, pizza dough, doughnuts, rolls or sweetbread with.
The bread machine will spin the dough once more at the end of the raising process and then warn you that it is done. I like to stop the machine, right before this last spin because it breaks down the air and makes it more difficult to shape your bread...pizza dough especially. I want to be the first to take the dough and reshape it. This makes a big difference.
When the dough has raised, I pull out the cylinder and turn out the dough onto a floured surface, then shape it.
It has made life easier.
Whole Wheat Bread
5 1/2 to 6 cups white flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons salt
2 Pkgs Fleischmann's active dry yeast
2 cups milk
3/4 cups water
1/2 stick butter, 1/4 cup
Combine flours unsifted. In large bowl mix 2 1/2 cups flour, sugar, salt and yeast.
Combine milk, water and butter in saucepan. Heat till very warm (120ºF). Butter does not need to melt completely. Gradually add liquid to dry ingredients and beat 2 min. at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add 1 cup flour mixture. Beat at high speed 2 min. Scrap bowl and add enough flour to make a stiff dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead till smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. (This is the torture spot!) Cover with plastic wrap, then a towel. Let rest 20 minutes.
*Divide dough in half. Roll each half to a 14x9-inch rectangle. Shape into loaves and place in 2 oiled 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pans. Brush loaves with oil and cover with plastic wrap. You can refrigerate 2 to 24 hours.
To bake, let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes, (puncture any gas bubbles with an oiled toothpick. Bake at 400ºF. about 40 minutes, or till done. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.
Bread machine directions: Place all liquids in saucepan to heat or in a microwave safe container. Pour into bottom of cylinder. Add salt, flours, sugar and yeast. Set machine to "dough" on the menu and push start. Once dough is about 2 minutes away from being done, stop machine. Follow above directions from *.
We sliced the hot loaf of bread at the table and enjoyed a bowl of Shaker Bean Soup to accompany it. My family said, "You get an A+ for dinner tonight".
Now, doesn't that make cutting out the "kneading" process worth it? It does for me...with making bread, of course ;o)
"The best work is not what is most difficult for you; it is what you do best."
"Disciplining yourself to do what you know is right and important, although difficult, is the highroad to pride, self-esteem and personal satisfaction."