Tuesday, September 27, 2005

"Step away from the oven...

...nice and slow, and nobody'll get hurt."

I had to trade in my apron for a strait jacket and go quietly with the nice men in the white coats. Pleasant fellows, cordial and all politeness. A bit strong-armed with the buckles, but still they'd make a lively addition to any coffee circle.

Why is it so hard to bake bread? Why is it a science? Either it won't rise very high, or it takes all day to rise at all. My loaves are more often than not heavy enough to press leaves. Or they don't bake in the middle. Or they taste too "yeasty." It's starting to get to me, really.

I read somewhere that, rather than try 10 recipes once, you should keep trying one recipe over and over again until you get it right and keep a journal tracking your progress. Good grief. Whoever wrote that has never seen me in action. Journals and pencils all over the place.

So I'm a bread idiot. Like, somewhere out in the world there's a village called "Bread" and they've come knocking at my door looking for their idiot. Every village has one, and I'm theirs. But that's alright... no really, I'm okay with it. Sincerely.

Someday I'll finally get this bread thing figured out. I've got to keep at it, I'm no quitter. (Okay, except when it comes to cross stitch projects, afghans, cleaning out the closets, organizing the pantry, pulling weeds, snipping off my split ends, dieting, and cleaning out the car. But those things don't count. We're talking about bread here!)

Why, you ask, don't I just give up and buy some Wonder? Cardboard in a bag, nasty stuff. Sticks to your teeth and virtually circles its wagons in your stomach. Only good for feeding the ducks at the park. Or let it get stale and use each slice as a disposable trivet! When that hot skillet hits the bread it'll make the whole house smell like you've been baking!

Still, somebody else does all the mixing, rising, baking, slicing and bagging. It probably would be easier. I'm sure I'd save a bundle on Prozac. Why keep trying to impress my family with my bread-baking prowess? When will I just stop this madness?

When shiny pink pigs fly past my window.


LoveALatte said...

It's called a bread machine. I got mine for $3 at a yard sale. Seek and ye shall find, babe; all the great smells and compliments, none of the urge to beat the Pillsbury dough boy to death with a rolling pin.

Anonymous said...

Did you try any of the Rolls recipe from BBC to break yourself in?

The Momma Chronicles said...

Nancy - you know I can't do things the easy way. When have I ever done things the easy way? ;-)

Dusanka - not yet, but I'm definitely going to... after I try this bread recipe just one more time. lol

Anonymous said...

I know everybody has their favourites, this one is mine. A lot of that is because I could read the love in the way that Angela presented her grandma's recipe ...

Sarah Hall Branham's Homemade Hot Rolls
(Angela Cameron)

2 envelopes active dry yeast (Fleischman's)
1 cup warm water
1 cup shortening (Crisco)
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
1 ½ tsp. Salt
1 cup boiling water
2 eggs, beaten
6 cups self-rising flour, sifted (Hudson Cream)


Dissolve yeast in warm water. Place shortening, sugar and salt in mixing bowl and add boiling water. Stir until sugar is dissolved and shortening is melted. Cool till lukewarm. Add yeast mixture. Stir in eggs and 3 cups flour. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead for several minutes. Shape into rolls. Place on greased baking sheet. Let rise for 1 ½ hours or until double in bulk. Bake in hot (400 degree) oven for 10 minutes or until browned.

Granny's method: (The brand name in ()'s is what she always used. You may or may not be able to find the exact brands. I don't remember how much flour she used, but the above ingredients call for 6 cups and only show using 3. Judge as you add the flour, the dough should be stiff, but not dry.) After mixing ingredients, place about 7 inch round portion of dough into a clean, dry, plastic bread bag. (We grew up in SE KY and she always used "Betsy Ross" bread bags. By bread bags, I'm talking about sandwich loaves.) Squeeze excess air out of bag and tie at the end, leaving room (at least ½ of the bag) for dough to expand. Place the bag in the bottom of the refrigerator. (It's best to leave in the refrigerator at least overnight, and can be left up to 2 nights.) You may have at least 2 bags. When ready to prepare, Granny would cut open the bag and dust the dough with flour. She would pinch off enough dough for a roll and roll it around in her hands to make a ball. She then pressed this down onto a greased cookie sheet with her knuckles. Once the pan was full of dough, she would brush melted margarine over the top of the rolls and let them rise (usually on the back of the stove while she was cooking other items) until they doubled in size. Bake as directed above.

Anonymous said...

And these are my favourite buttermilk biscuits.

Buttermilk Biscuits (Allison)

2 cups cake flour or all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup milk
1 cup buttermilk (you can also use all of one kind of milk if you want- I prefer the buttermilk or the heavy cream though)
1 cup or more flour, for rolling
2 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Butter an 8 or 9-inch cake pan.
Place the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and with a paddle attachment mix in the shortening until pea sized pieces remain. With a wooden spoon stir in the cream, milk, and buttermilk and let sit 2 minutes. The dough should be very wet and look like cottage cheese.
Place the 1 cup of flour on a sheet pan with a wall and flour your hands. Using a small or medium ice cream scoop, dip into the batter and place scoops of batter onto the flour until the pan is full. Carefully toss the scoops of batter in the flour. Carefully lift the coated pieces of batter out and place around the edge of the buttered cake pan, packing them tightly, then place some in the center of the pan.
Bake in the center of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. As you take them from the oven brush them with melted butter and serve them hot with butter and jam.

~Deborah~ said...


Too funny...I love your blog on bread making, lol! You were married the weekend after me! Married 10/5/02 DS on 7/11/03 and DD 5/17/05, lol! Thanks for checking out my blog...I've gotta work on it but totally a fun way to show updates on the kids and stuff! Thanks for showing me...it's because of yours that I started mine!

Anonymous said...

That was very funny, especially the part about the Wonder trivet.

I've never had any problems making bread because from as far back as I could remember my mother made bread every weekend and then when my older sister was old enough she took over. I think you need a thermometer more than anything else. Until you can really figure out what 'warm' water really is it could be invaluable... and it doesn't matter how many easy recipes you have, if you kill the yeast before you even start they won't help you.

Keep trying, it's really worth it.

Anonymous said...

Check this out. I had forgotten I had bookmarked it months ago.


Jennifer said...

I'd go with a breadmachine.

I love mine, although I don't use it as much in the summer but it's great and you can find such great recipes for them.

Anonymous said...

Wonder Bread is also good for making sculptures with- I'm serious.

The person who wrote that saying didn't understand that sometimes recipes can be wrong... and sometimes they can be misunderstood. Shortly after he was widowed Nate figured he'd try his hand at cooking. The recipe said, "Add two cloves of garlic, minced." Nate did not understand that two cloves and two HEADS of garlic were totally different things. I think that pan can still head off vampires.

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