Here's the recipe that I'm using - Best Basic White Bread. It's from the New Canadian Basics Cookbook. Incidentally, the NCB is one of my favourites. I would say actually that it is my favourite cookbook. Second place goes to Fanny Farmer and that Chef at Large dude's book - Michael Smith's Chef at Home. But back to NCB - everything I've tried has turned out and has also been delicious and that's saying something! It's published by Viking and is written by Carol Ferguson and Murray McMillan. These folks know what they're talking about, they're food editors, so I've turned to them for help with bread.
Today, I am attempting the above recipe, but I am going to sneak some whole wheat flour into my bread. My yeast has proofed so I am already happy (to proof yeast you put it in warm water and add sugar to it. It should froth / bubble a bit if it's active - it's the carbon dioxide being released that does this). I mixed the flour in and stirred for three minutes with a wooden spoon (it says to use an electric mixer but I don't have one so I kicked it old school with Woody the spoon). I then dumped in the rest of the flour, bit by bit, and kneaded the dough for 10 minutes while listening to the Current on CBC. Topic? - Elections. Not the most interesting listening, really, although I did learn a few things about our electoral system.
Then I oiled a bowl (veg oil) and dumped in my ball of dough, whisked it around to cover all sides with the oil and put a dampish linen towel on top (yes, it was a CLEAN towel, people). The dough is currently rising in the morning sunshine and has about 20 minutes left.
Here's what it looked like before it started to rise:
And here it is, 90 minutes later:
It's like Jiffy Pop! Wow! I'm very excited because of my previous mistakes. Now to punch it down. You punch it down to get the air out so you can form it into loaves:
I cut the dough in half using a knife and formed it into a loaf-like shape. I greased my loaf pans with butter, put in the loaves and set them in the sun for another hour. Here they are, in their mangled glory:
Now to rise for another hour. They better rise or I'm going to lose it. Rise like the sun, damn it!
Here are my little loaves, growing, after 30 minutes of rising:
Tada! Here they are, ready to go in the oven for 30 minutes:
The one on the left is bigger because it's in a smaller pan. Hope this is not a problem.
Break for Humour...
While I waiting for the loaves to bake, I was tidying up. I opened a drawer, saw this and practically had a heart attack. Will I ever learn? ...
Damn mannequin hand. I only have myself to blame. I like mannequin heads, hands, feet, torsos - anything really. I got this one at a yard sale. No, I am not a serial killer.
Along the same lines, here's my dead and defaced Barbie Lamp, called Pretty Ugly. Thanks to Hannah Z for Barbie donations when she was 8. I especially like the head on top (she came from the Goodwill). And the Barbie hair on the base.
No, I am not a serial killer. :-)
Back to the bread.
Here it is, fresh from the oven.
I think it looks a tad overdone. That's what happens when you try to do too many things at once, like play with dogs, make Greek tortellini salad, replant hostas, write a blog, wash dishes and get ready for Saturday's garage sale.
We'll see how it tastes tonight. Anything slathered in butter is a good thing, non?
addendum - the bread disappeared in about five minutes flat. People liked it! I will absolutely make this bread again... it is GREAT for sandwiches because it sliced perfectly, tasted good and it actually WASN'T overcooked at all. Hurrah!