Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Art of Bread Making

The phrase ‘baker’s dozen’, meaning 13 not 12, comes from the Middle Ages when there were problems with bakers cheating their customers by producing under-sized loaves.

Who doesn't love the smell of bread baking in their home or walking by a bakery and taking a deep wiff that  brings back memories of your mom's or grandma's kitchen and thus gives you that safe and warm feeling-at least for some of us fortunate ones. Bread is the staple in life and the joys of making and having your guests or loved ones say-WOW that's great tasting bread is truly a feeling of accomplishment and pride.

Making homemade bread is a love/hate relationship for true breadmakers worldwide.  It takes patience to wait for a starter to "ferment" and the love to remember to  "feed" it weekly or by-weekly and then courage to believe in yourself to actually "make" the bread. There is also a sense of mystery in preparing the bread, waiting for the yeast to lift it to the place you need it to be for baking; taking the time to study recipes and techniques from other more accomplished breadmakers and finally in the course of failing a couple of times figuring out that there is an ends to the means.  It takes years of practice because God knows I've made breads that were hard enough to throw across the kitchen (which I wanted to) and hurt someone, and then others that were so soft in the middle that it was straight dough, and so as the old saying goes "practice makes perfect" I keep baking and more often than not I turn out a pretty good bread.

My last experience with bread consisted of making sourdough bread from the starter that is in the fridge that I feed every week. I've attempted several recipes of the bread and finally found one that I prefer.  I measured my starter and placed it in the bread bowl (large plastic bowl) for an overnight warm-up; I fed my starter and put it back into the fridge. The next morning I began to put the ingredients together but was followed by several distractions and thus forgot to add the 1 cup water that it needed before kneading it-and of course did not realize it until it was too late and into the bowl for rising...I knew that it would not "rise to the occasion" for bread. I was not a happy camper because this was the bread that was to accompany the chicken salad that we were serving the next day for a church luncheon. Finding out I was out of yeast did not help matters, but for the love of the craft I went to the store and bought some.

Sometimes a mess up turns out to be a  blessing and  I found a potato bread recipe-mind you I've never made potato bread in the past-but hey I am a breadmaker and this is just another recipe. That's were the "courage" comes from. The bread turned out to be WONDERFUL, some guests ate the bread without the chicken salad that was to be put on it and some even took some home and of course most insisted that I just had to have this bread for sale at the farmer's market.
Now that's what Im taking bout.....LOVE TO MAKE BREAD! If you come and stay with us at Magnolia Hill Bed and Breakfast in Helena AR you will have the pleasure of maybe smelling one of the many breads that I make or having fresh homemade bread with your breakfast. I may even share some secrets of breadmaking with you and give you the recipe! Come rest a while and experience Southern hospitality.

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