Friday, January 7, 2011

My Year in Bread: What I learned

Last year when I resolved to bake a loaf of bread a week I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I knew that I would become a better baker, I just had no idea how much I would love it. Or how much I would learn. Or how much of a bread snob I would become.

I hope you have enjoyed joining me on my journey. After baking at least one loaf a week I picked up a few things that have made my life easier. Here are my five favorites.

Instant yeast. This stuff is great. It cuts the rising time significantly and you don't need to wake it up. I keep a big jar of it in the freezer. I've only had to restock once.

A KitchenAid mixer. You can make bread without one, but using a dough hook speeds up the process significantly. As an added bonus you can clean off your counter and prep your rising bowl while the mixer kneads.

A dough scraper. This $2 item worked like a charm getting sticky dough out of the bowl. I cannot imagine making focaccia without it. If you ever use a bowl for any sort of mixing I highly recommend it.

A bench scraper. This tool is great for cutting dough into bits for rolls or bagels. It also works to scrape off the counter and remove all of the flour and dough residue. I can't imagine how annoying it would be to make rolls and clean my counter without this tool.

A kitchen scale. I use it for weighing the ingredients prior to mixing. When I make bagels I weigh out each piece to ensure uniformity. When I'm not baking I measure cereal, cheese, crackers, and just about any food item with a weight listed in the serving size. I splurged on this scale and it was worth every penny. The display lights up for low light measuring (it happens more than you would think). The display also pulls out so if you are measuring ingredients in a large bowl you can read the display with ease.

I am going to continue baking bread this year. However, I will be relaxing the pace of bread making. This year I'm going to explore vegetarian cooking. I tend to make the same 5 dinners over and over, so this year I am branching out.


Liz said...

I loved following your bread baking journey. It was fun to see what you were making. The whole project was incredibly inspiring to me! I got the King Arthur Flour cookbook for Christmas and am working my way through it. This week we made the basic 'hearth bread' recipe and it's delicious and so simple. I say 'we' because Tommy was at my side the entire time! We also love making pizza dough.

... anyway... keep sharing your tidbits about bread baking, vegetarian eating, and whatever else! I just love it all.

essjay said...

It was so awesome to read your journey this past year & thanks for sharing your tip! I look forward to reading about more cooking & baking adventures!

mary-claire said...

Looking forward to the vegetarian cooking posts! As well as your other ones, of course.

misterrios said...

It has been a great year, hasn't it? I've thoroughly enjoyed reading about your breadmaking as well as your knitting.

Plus I look forward to reading about your vegetarian adventures!