Monday, January 19, 2009

Bread Making
I've posted before about how much I love to bake bread and I used to do it a lot (as in several times a week) back when I was in my teens and twenties. Haven't done it so much the last 15 years, but this is one case where money was not a factor - it's very cheap to make bread. Instead, lack of time, kitchen counters at the wrong height and arthritis played a bigger role. I did have a mixer with dough hooks, but it made lousy dough and was a poor substitute for hand kneading. Not too long ago I bought a bread machine thinking that was the answer, but that turned out to make mediocre bread no matter what recipe I used. Now it may be true that mediocre home made bread is better than store bought, but it's very disappointing when one is used to fabulous home made bread so the bread machine has not gotten very much use. But yesterday I was craving home made bread and I looked at Rob's roaster oven and wondered if it would make a good little bread oven. It's the perfect size and I would assume it provides very even heat. There's no window to peek through, but I've always used my nose to tell me when the bread is done so that didn't matter. I got out the bread machine and used that to knead a very simple test dough of yeast, water, general purpose flour and a bit of salt. I've never pulled the dough out of the machine before (I always left it in to cook) so I was surprised to see what a good job of kneading it had done. I still think there is no substitute for hand kneading, but this was pretty damn close. I then baked it in the roaster oven and it turned out surprisingly well. If you saw the picture then you can see that I skimped quite a bit on the last rise, but it still turned out a light and fluffy loaf of plain white bread. Boring, but still tasty. Time to try some more exciting recipes, although recipe isn't really the right word since I don't follow any thing written. More exciting ingredients might be a better way to put it. What I find so fun about bread making is how the ingredients change the bread - milk does one thing, honey another, eggs something else, and butter does this but oil does that. It's a tasty combination of art and science, both of which I love, but neither of which I get to do at my day job.

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