Today is the first day of my experiment (project is a better word.) I am making all the recipes in Beth Hensperger’s “The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook.” Bread, white flour bread at least, is one of the things I can eat without causing my Crohn’s symptoms to act up. I know I will have to time this to make any whole grain/nutty type loaves when I have company coming, so I can send it home with them. I am excited to start this out, though. Lord knows, I love me some fresh baked bread. Obviously, I am not on the gluten-free bandwagon. (People with Celiac Disease, you have my sincerest sympathy, the rest of you, get a grip.) The house is going to smell incredible; I only wish I could share that with you. I won’t wax poetic too much, I promise, but for today, I want to include the following:
“Sense the blessings of the earth in the perfect arc of a ripe tangerine, the taste of warm, fresh bread, the circling flight of birds, the lavender color of the sky shining in a late afternoon rain puddle, the million times we pass other beings in our cars and shops and out among the trees without crashing, conflict, or harm.“
I am using an Oster model 5838 bread machine. The purists out there may be rolling their eyes at me for not baking my bread by hand, but we have this incredible (and easy to clean) technology available, and I want to see what I can make happen with that. There may be times along this route that I use my machine to make the dough, but then shape by hand and bake in the oven. For the most part, this will be almost exclusively using the bread machine, though. Oh dear, it already smells great. The cookbook provides instructions for making each recipe as a 1 ½ or 2 pound loaf. I will be sticking to the 1 ½ pound loaves, provided this is mostly for my consumption here at home, and I want to avoid waste. (Although leftover bread crumbs tossed in the yard will please local birds, and my birdwatching kitties.) Back to today’s recipe; the recipes in this book call for the addition of vital wheat gluten. I am using Bob’s Red Mill brand gluten. Gluten is not usually a required addition for bread baking at home, the gluten naturally found in flour is enough, but the author recommends adding it to help the loaves rise and “yield a better loaf.” If you plan to do a lot of baking, you can store your gluten in the cupboard, in an airtight container, however, it will keep better in the fridge or freezer. Other ingredients include water, light olive oil, sugar, bread flour, instant potato flakes, nonfat dry milk, salt and yeast. Her recipes calls for SAF or bread machine yeast. I will be using SAF in the future, but today I am using up the last of my Fleishmann’s
Well, this is not an auspicious start, lol. I just peeked in the window on top of the machine and there is a good chance I will end up with “crater bread.” That is when the top of the loaf is sunken. I could either scrap this entry and start again tomorrow, or own up to my less than perfect loaf and look for possible reasons. As it turns out, the main reason for a crater loaf is too much liquid in the recipe. I own the mistake completely. I have always been more of a “that looks about right” girl when it comes to measuring my ingredients. I think if I really want to bake a great loaf of bread, I need to be precise. Baking is a science and I can’t forget that. I am not done yet, my top may have sunk, but my optimism has not. The house still smells awesome and the bread hasn’t finished baking yet.
Other than the sunken top, this bread turned out great. It tastes incredible. The crust is slightly crunchy and the texture of the bread has just a little chew. I had a slice warm from the machine with a little butter, then put a slice in the toaster and had it with spiced apple butter. It is not overly salty or sweet, just your standard white bread. I am thinking of grilled sharp cheddar cheese on Country White with tomato soup for dinner; maybe some French Toast for breakfast tomorrow. . .