Completely Baked…

I mentioned yesterday that I was going to make bread.  It was another Snow Day, and the house was cold, and really, there’s hardly a better way to warm the house than by baking.  And since Son went ahead and went to school yesterday, I even had time to photograph the process.

First, you have to get warm water, and let the yeast bloom.  This can take up to ten minutes, so I always do this, and then get all my other ingredients weighed and measured.  By the time I’m finished, the yeast and water mixture is usually nice and foamy.

Next, in this case, it was time to add lard and sugar, and mix with the paddle attachment in the mixer.

The lard has to mixed well, and that can take a while.  Have you ever tried to mix fat and water?  It’s not easy.  Once it is mixed, you add the flour and salt.  This is always the messy part.  If you add the flour too quickly, it sprays all over the kitchen.  If you add too slowly, you’ll be there all day, and it may not mix properly.  Once it’s mixed, you switch to the dough hook.

This is the part I hate most.  Dough is sticky, and even though I love the way dough makes my hands smell – all yeasty and nostalgic, I hate, hate, getting my hands yucky.  I know, it’s a bit of an oxymoron, really.  Loving to cook, but hating messy hands.  Oh well.  Makes it a sacrifice.  To help keep my hands clean, I usually use the dough hook to push off the dough from the paddle.  It works pretty well, most of the time.  Once the hooks are changed out, you knead.  This recipe said to knead for 4 minutes.  Then, you toss it with oil, and let it sit in a covered bowl until doubled.

Once it was risen, I had to turn it out, and roll it to a 12″x24″ rectangle, fold into thirds, and repeat.  Then I put it into a well buttered pullman pan, and closed the lid.  It had to rise again for another hour or so.  This is when I pre-heat the oven.  I’m sure it doesn’t take an hour to preheat the oven, but it does take a while, and this is the easiest way for me to remember.

When it was ready, I popped it into the 400 degree oven, and baked it for an hour.  It smelled incredible.  When it was done, I unmolded it from the pan, and left it on a rack to cool. This morning, it looked like this…

It was good, but I think next time I will add more salt; the bread tasted a bit flat.  Guess I’ll have to wait for another Snow day!

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