Bread

I was chatting with a friend today about bread. I love bread so much: its smell, the outer crust covering a soft and fluffy or firm and chewy texture on the inside, the colour transformation, the way it tastes hot with margarine or cold with jam or balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

I think if I were only allowed to have one type of baked goods in my life, it would be bread. I am indifferent about store-bought bread; I can take two weeks or more to eat through a loaf of grocery store light rye (our ususal purchase). However, I will consume half a batch of homemade buns or focaccia or French bread in a sitting.

I want to be a good baker, especially a good bread maker. Back when all I could make were vegetarian cookies, muffins and quick breads, baking leavened bread and pastry seemed to be the ultimate skills to master. I think I am a good bread maker – I can whip up bread or buns on a whim, and take a few small liberties in choosing ingredients. However, I now want to master the art of break making.

I can make/ have made the following:

  • Super-quick white and/or whole wheat bread
  • Fast white bread
  • Multigrain bread
  • North American style (fast) rye bread
  • Cinnamon buns
  • Pizza dough
  • Lavash
  • Naan
  • Focaccia
  • Moravian Black Bread (from Sundays at the Moosewood Café)
  • Yeast starter-based French bread (but it was too tough)
  • Buns of various types of dough above

I want to make the following:

  • Better French bread
  • Sourdough
  • Authentic rye
  • Pumpernickel
  • Gluten-free bread
  • Bagels
  • Crackers
  • Pitas
  • Swedish tea ring
  • Raisin bread
  • Boston steamed bread
  • Fan Tams

The only items I’ve included in this list are leavened breads; I feel quite comfortable with my skills in making cornbread, pancakes, muffins, scones, etc., and honestly I don’t crave them nearly as often.

As an aside, the other skill, pastry, is about par with my level in bread making. Stay tuned for a post documenting my attempts at puff pastry!

For those of you who are looking to start making bread, it’s not nearly as hard as it sounds. I let my Kitchen Aid take care of all of the kneading, and follow the same recipe exactly as the book says a few times until I’ve got it down pat!

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