Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Our Daily Bread, Part 1

Whenever it snows, I just want to stay inside and BAKE! This week I am on a bread kick, searching to find an easy bread recipe that doesn't land me an overly-crusty bread. Granted, Mark and I love crust, but the majority of our team would rather skip to the chewy insides. Since I already have gained X amount of weight eating what the kids toss aside as inedible (I hate to be wasteful! but now I am WAIST-full), I am on the look-out for a soft bread that is fairly easy to put together. I don't mind kneading--in fact, there is something therapeutic about it--but I gravitate toward recipes with few ingredients and few steps. So I landed upon Keri Lyn's blog and her recipe for Homemade Easy Bread and gave it a whirl yesterday.

Sorry I don't have any pictures--camera battery is currently recharging--but I wouldn't have been patient enough to clean the flour and dough off of my fingers to take step-by-step photos, anyway.

Why is she posting about this? you are probably thinking. Well, I'm not sure why, except maybe to keep my posting numbers up for the month of January. Actually, the real reason I'm posting is two-fold: to record my search for the perfect bread, and to write down my children's comments before I forget them!

I put the dough into square baking pans, since I can't seem to find the one loaf pan I thought I had. That's okay; the recipe said it would make 2 loaves, anyway. The dough rose wonderfully, a little too wonderfully. I took the greased saran wrap off of the loaves, and the dough sank down about half-way. My heart sank with it. Did I just ruin that beautiful bread?? After scraping the wayward dough off of the stove top and the sides of the pans, I put them into the oven just a few minutes before the big kids were set to arrive home from school.

"It smells like bread!" Paige exclaimed as she burst in the back door.
"Can I have a snack?" I forgot who said that. Most likely one of the twins, since they are always so famished by the end of their school day. (May have something to do with being too picky to eat half of their lunch at school!)
"When will it be done, Mom?"
"I just checked it. It's still gooey on the inside. Better wait a few more minutes."
"Aww! Come ON!! I'm HUNGRY!!"
"There's a bowl of fruit on the counter."
"But I don't like fruit! I want some BREAD!!!"
A few agonizingly long minutes later, I pulled out the bread. Oops, forgot to slice the tops like the recipe called for. It looked a little too crusty, but oh well--bread is bread, and it smelled fantastic!

The kids dove into it, and one loaf was gone by supper time. We ate it with butter; we ate it with peanut butter. We ate it plain; we ate it with lasagna.

"How come this bread is so good, Mom?" my son asked. I wasn't sure if I should take that as a compliment or a cut! I mean, he said it with such sincerity! Does this mean that most of my cooking is just not very good? Oh, honey child, wait till you are on your own and paying for your own food. THEN you will know just how precious each morsel that goes in your cake-hole really is.

There is something about bread that pulls people together. We all become eaters. I feel really sorry for people who have to be gluten-free or on a special Atkins diet or whatever. Because bread is the great Equalizer. It is so fundamental to our existence--it crosses several cultures and several time periods. "Give us this day our daily bread," we pray. Jesus said it right there! (Okay; He was probably using it metaphorically, but go with me on this.) Picky people eat bread. (Case in point: my little people.) Little people eat bread. Big people eat bread. Really big people probably eat a little too much bread.

Here you go--I just revived my camera and took a picture of the Homemade Easy Bread. What's left of it.

See how chewy and dense it is in the inside? It reminds me of the bread we used to eat back when I was a kid, at our school. It was sort of like French bread, only softer and denser. Smeared with industrially-canned peanut butter, that bread made all painful memories of the occasional hot-lunch-gone-wrong go away. Oh, how I loved that bread.

So this bread gets a B+, I think. Why not an A? Because the dough fell, it only made two small loaves, it used more sugar than most recipes, and I'm sorry-- if we're going to finish off 6 cups of flour in one evening, I need a little more bread to show for. Probably baker's error, but I am going to continue my quest for the perfect bread. It's a good one, but not sure if it's great. Sorry Easy Homemade Bread; I will probably change my mind and come back and give you a better grade. Sort of like that first wedding dress that I left in the store, to go searching for something better and never did. I came back to you, Miss Garden Pink Lovely, didn't I?

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. -- Matthew 6:11


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