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! ;)