Is there anything better than fresh bread?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I love bread.  I seriously could probably live on bread alone (though with the existence of cupcakes, who really wants to live on just bread?).  My grandmother is an amazing bread maker.  I grew up spending weekends in her kitchen learning how to make bread from scratch.  She would make her bread and rolls - enough to feed a small large enormous army it always seemed - in her "big people" pans, and I would get to make my bread and rolls in little kid-size pans.  We made everything from white bread to oatmeal bread to dinner rolls to orange-glazed goodness.  It would take the better part of a Saturday, even though we started at the crack of dawn (pre-dawn, when she was baking without me underfoot; I don't think my grandmother has slept much past 5 a.m. ever in her life).  But the payout was always worth it - the scent of bread baking is a gift from heaven.  We'd chat and bake and when they were all done, we would of course enjoy a slice or roll, fresh and hot - so hot they'd be dripping from the pat of butter that instantly evaporated on contact.  Once everything was cooled, she would portion every thing up, and then make her deliveries.  Family, friends, neighbors - everyone was a beneficiary of my grandmother's kitchen.  They still are to this day.

So you can see where my love of bread was born.  Sadly, with college and then jobs, I got too busy to dedicate a day to baking bread.  Fortunately, my gram always kept (and keeps) my mailbox full of the good stuff a few times a year.  But the "domestic goddess" bug had been nipping at my heels for the past few years; I was itching to get back into the kitchen and start cooking, baking and creating.  I realized that it's important to make time for the things you really love doing.  So I started reading food blogs, magazines (Food Network Magazine and Taste of Home are two of my favorites), gathering recipes from friends and family and looking for new things to try.  You've been able to see a few of my creations here on my blog (more are coming, I promise; if anyone knows how to cram an extra hour or three into a day, that would be great, thanks).

With some of this newly-rediscovered culinary confidence and courage, I decided to try my hand at a few loaves.  I would love to have had a chance to do a few practice runs first with my gram in her kitchen, but logistics (Kentucky to Maine = a long trip for bread) nixed that idea.  So, after some reading and research, I just jumped in with some Artisan loaves; French Boule, to be exact.  And that jump was met by a hard, crunchy outer-layer landing, followed by a light-as-air secondary landing; in other words, yummy goodness.

Here are some pictures of some of my loaves, both white and wheat:

I have a few more I plan on trying over the next few weeks, including using some of these doughs for homemade pizzas, some quick breads, cinnamon rolls, and much more.  I'll continue to share them as I try them :)

Hope you enjoyed!


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