Wednesday, May 27, 2020

My Experience Baking Bread From Scratch (bread machine vs. the old fashioned way) ♥

Hello Friends! 

This weekend I made bread *from scratch* for the first time.  Let me just say I've owned a bread machine for years (and love it) and up until now saw no reason to make bread "the long way".  Something triggered me last week and I got the urge to try it.  Maybe it was the fact that after a month my local grocery store finally had FLOUR on the shelves! Hooray! Also, it seems everyone on Instagram is baking bread these days and I'm bombarded with photos of fresh baked bread, smothered with weakness!  I decided to try it and see what the difference is - between the bread machine and the old fashioned way.  

Baking bread has always been intimidating to me (hence the bread machine), but I was up for the challenge.  I found a recipe on Cupcakes & Cashmere.  I saw Emily go through the process on her Instagram stories, and although its time consuming it seemed rather easy. And let's be real.  I've got time.  

So off I went. 

Step one was to mix flour, yeast, salt, and water.  That's it. 

Cover and wait.

and wait....

18 hours later I had dough!  


I kneaded it a little bit, turned it onto a towel, and waited some more....2 more hours! 

Finally it was time to bake!  1 hour later I had bread!

Because of the anticipation and long process I've never been more excited in my life to see a loaf of bread : ) 

I actually made bread.  

And it was good! 

My family loved the bread and although I said this was just an experiment and I would not be making it again it only took less than a day for me to decide to make another loaf.  The first one went fast.  Besides, now that I'm "experienced" I wanted to put my dough in a slightly warmer spot to rise to see if my loaf would come out bigger.  I did.  And it did.  So the second loaf came out better than the first.  Crusty on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside.  

To. die. for. 

So my conclusion is this:  The bread machine is faster and makes a bigger loaf. Making it from scratch is a longer process, but the bread comes out much better.  It really does.  Trust me, I am not tossing out my bread machine anytime soon, but I'm happy I learned a new skill.  Baking bread is fun, therapeutic, and very satisfying.  

It's also delicious warm, slathered in butter! 

Below is the recipe I used in case you want to give it a try! 

Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.
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