The return home to the land of bread and the baking of it in a kitchen a bit too tiny and far too hot for this southern temperature was the first thing on my list of things to do as we returned our lives back to the normal rhythm. Despite humid air so thick and heavy it is entirely possible I drip dropped a couple of forehead beads into these last few loaves I must admit, it sure does feel nice to be back.
When surrounded by my Yankee friends (and loving every second of it), one particular lady friend happened to mention something to me that took me aback. After some time to digest, I decided she is nothing if not exactly correct. She told me yes, she likes the blog (woah.) and yes, she reads it (sweet!), but being truthful with me, she admitted its a little bit frustrating to see all these damn breads I keep making. It is not so much as the bread, as the time it takes to make I believe that frustrated her. When looking back at this massive undertaking of a new years resolution, and writing 31 in the title I realize that this is exactly how it looks. I appear to be one of those super-moms who has two little ones running around, an apron tied on, and a fresh loaf of bread coming out of the oven at all times. But you must know, it is only how I appear. On paper.
Without dismissing my efforts, I explained to her quite the different scenario….
These 52 different loaves that (will) come out of our oven and into our mouths is my sanity. Photographing them, documenting them, and critiquing them (and of course thoroughly enjoying them) is my religion. For now. It is what a girl who is busy at heart but has little to do, who cannot sit still, who just needs to keep going; it is what she does when there is an easy route down the road to boredom and loneliness but she refuses to take it.
It is the quarter of an hour it takes to pound the gluten into submission that with a few bit of heave ho and touch of taking myself less seriously that brings me back to reality. Every single time.
To express it in a way I never could, I will take the words of my girl Fiona (and I am pretty sure this was said by Popeye too)- “I am what I am cuz I does what I does.” Well, If that doesn’t explain it, then I don’t know what can.
I love bread. It keeps me out of the doldrums. It is exciting. It is delicious. It smells lovely and homey and fresh. It warms my whole soul when I put my boys down at night, pour a tall glass of wine, pull that warm wafting loaf out of the oven, slice, slather and savor.
I think she got it.
With that, I chose a nice and cozy loaf this time around. (And two more to follow in the next few days… already made just need to be reported upon.) Rather than roll up your cinnamon and raisin mix in a swirl, this one just kind dove kneads it right in. And it turns out, I like that just fine.
1. Soften 3 teaspoons of yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water for about five minutes. Add 3/4 of cold water with 3/4 cup whole milk (is there another kind?), 3 tbs. sugar and whisk away.
2. Sarabeth gives directions for using your standing mixer. If you are lucky enough to have one (I am out of luck these days), buy her book. I am sure you can afford it. (That is a joke! Don’t worry!) But for everyone else, I have included the way I did it. Old fashioned and sweaty. Just the way it should be. Mix 2 cups whole wheat and 2 cups all-purpose flour with 2 heaping teaspoons of cinnamon and 1.5 teaspoons of sea salt. Combine and begin kneading. Knead in one softened tablespoon of butter. Then another. And a third. Knead for about seven minutes more. I like to set a timer. It makes me feel accomplished. In the last minutes knead in 1 cup of seedless raisins.
3. Turn into a buttered bowl and let it rise for about 1.5 hours.
4. Cut dough into two and let sit for fifteen minutes covered.
5. Butter two bread pans and fold each envelope style (rectangle turned folded into thirds sealed thoroughly).
6. Let rise once more with a big plastic bag over both and a hot cup of tall water underneath until the bread is about one inch over the edge of the pan. This took about an hour.
7. Brush with a beaten egg and bake at 350 for 35 minutes. I took the bread out of the pan and sent them back into the oven letting the crusts crisp up for the last three minutes. Rap em’ up and make sure they sound good and hollow. Cool as long as you can handle it.
This one makes the most magnificent french toast imaginable.
Good day to you. And may there be good bread too.
My Cat Rules.