The weather is cold and damp. It’s Autumn and the sun sets so early. More and more we are staying inside our home with the wood stove crackling on the hearth. Time for me to turn the oven on and start baking bread again. I enjoy baking bread. A lot. There is something so earthy and centering about the process. The rhythm of kneading the dough until it offers up the right “feel.” Push, fold, quarter turn. Repeat, repeat and repeat. The patience needed to let it rise to just the perfect height. The incredible aroma that fills our house when homemade bread is baking. Cautiously tapping on the tops waiting for that “hollow” sound that means the bread has baked to perfection. Taking the golden loaves from the oven and setting them to cool for a minute before removing these beauties from their pans to cool. And then, of course, giving in to temptation and slicing into these luscious loaves way before they are cool and slathering them with butter! Nothing in the whole wide world is better than for your heart and soul than freshly baked home made bread. I shared a memory with Dan today about my mother baking bread. I was sent back 55 years to our kitchen on Berry Rd and can see it vividly. Bread hot from the oven and we four kids all clambering for the heel with its crisp crust and moist chewy center. The child who got that morsel was the child who got there first. I was the patient one who waited with Mom in that warm, love filled kitchen. Waited for her to pull that bread from the oven, look at me with a smile and take her knife, slice off that heel and offer it up covered in butter for the best treat ever! Sweet memories.
If you are a novice bread baker, I offer a couple of hints. Heat destroys Yeast, so the water you dissolve it in must be lukewarm. Never hot. Test it on your wrist, you should barely feel the warmth.
If your mixing bowl is cold, run it under some warm water. Adding the Yeast and dissolving water to a cold bowl will cool the Yeast too much.
I let my bread rise, covered with a clean tea towel, in the oven with just the oven light on to gently warm my oven.
First, I measure everything out and set all the pre-measured ingredients on my counter top. Then, I am ready to go with no delays.