Monday, February 6, 2012

Baking with Julia: White Loaves

Ahhh.... yeast bread, how I love thee...



Here we have the glorious results of the first Baking with Julia recipe, White Loaves. The recipe yields two loaves of soft, pillowy bread, and makes your house smell wonderful, to boot. I made one just a regular white loaf and the other with a cinnamon swirl. Before signing up for this challenge, I had decided that this year I would finally overcome my fear of yeast and learn to make proper bread. It's not that the process is overly difficult, it's just rather intimidating. The yeast has to be coaxed back into life, and everything from the temperature to the chlorine in the water can prevent that from happening. Then once you have the dough, you have to knead it.... but it you over-knead or under-knead horrible things will happen. (trust me, i've encountered those horrible, brick-like things before) Plus there are hours upon hours of rising time and baking it in a regular oven is apparently a recipe for failure, you should have baking stones and water vapor and a black chicken to wave over the stove while it bakes. (the bread, not the chicken) Yet bread is such a basic thing... surely it can't be *that* difficult?!



Well, it turns out it's not ;) I followed the recipe and a few good tutorials on proper kneading technique/time (I found the one at The Kitchen particularly helpful), and the results were pretty outstanding. I found that familiarizing myself with all of the steps first helped me feel more in control. Also I used a few little tips like using bottled water instead of tap (apparently hard water or highly chlorinated water can adversely affect the yeast) and using bread flour with it's slightly higher gluten content to stack the odds in my favor. Since B and I are only two in the house and I feared it would go stale before we could finish both loaves, I sent some with him to his parents' place one afternoon, and his dad has not stopped talking about it since. He has kindly offered to take any surplus loaves off my hands in the future ;) All in all, I'm very happy with how it turned out! I even indulged one evening and had toast from the plain white loaf and my first-ever (slightly overdone) soft-boiled egg for dinner... it was utter simplicity, but paired with a warm mug of tea it was heavenly.



I see many more loaves of bread in my future, and I'm sure not all of them will turn out as well as these did, but I'm looking forward to the practice! ;)

16 comments:

  1. Gorgeous! I've had many bread mishaps, too. This was easy and delicious!

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  2. Great looking bread. Glad it baked up so nicely for you.

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  3. Bread has always intimidated me, too, so I'm glad so many of us are conquering this particular challenge together. Congrats on your successful bread baking adventure!

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  4. Beautiful loaves. What is it about bread that is so intimidating to us - it's really simple but fear inspiring at the same time. Congratulations on the success!

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  5. I've got my fingers crossed that my loaves turn out as beautiful!

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  6. Mental image of the black chicken waving - too funny!
    Glad this one was a success for you. Looking forward to more TWD!

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  7. Nice job! Surprising how something so simple can be so delicious.

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  8. Lovely rise on your loaf! And love the funny asides in your post LOL I look forward to reading more of them!

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  9. Great job! Looking forward to baking with you. Cheers!

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  10. Your efforts were rewarded - these are gorgeous, perfect loaves.

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  11. Lovely job - you know if the family is asking to take it off your hands, you're doing something right.

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  12. Have you ever tried the recipes from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day? Jenna's bread at the workshop was a variant of one of theirs. No kneading. Wonderfully foolproof even in a drafty old house. Oh, and the recipes are set up so they're easy to decrease for small households.

    They've got several books now, but I've only tried out the 1st. http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/

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    1. I've seen the books but I've never tried one. I don't know, while I enjoy cookbooks, I rarely buy them for myself... I think my mom has almost single-handedly built my cookbook collection over the years ;)

      I have, however, been toying with the recipe Jenna posted, since B raved so much about the bread we had when we were there :) I've had some pretty good luck with it so far, I love the texture and the no-knead, but am finding the taste isn't quite what I'd like it to be.

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