July 01, 2011

Beauty and the Yeast

Oh, hello there.

What? What's this I'm eating?

It's just a grilled cheese sandwich I made with some bread I baked the other day.

From scratch.

You know, I'm a baker

I bake bread

With flour and yeast.

And the kneading and rising and punching down.....

.....okay, I think I'm done.

Thanks for letting me toot my own horn there for a minute. I felt like I deserved at least a little bit of bragging after finally triumphing in what I estimate to be roughly an eleven year battle with certain fields of baking in general and yeast dough in particular. I can bake just about any type of cookie or cake with no problems worse than some occasional overflow or pan-sticking issues. Pies are iffy, but yeast breads have always been my nemesis, with the exception of a few sourdough successes, but those don't really count.

This eleven years ago previously mentioned is the first time I can remember trying to bake bread from scratch. It was to be rosemary olive oil bread and it was going to be fantastic!

What I ended up with were some very fragrant doorstops.  I think I either created some small, matter-sucking black holes or I really screwed with the law of conservation of mass because those bad boys weighed way more coming out of the oven than they did going in.

There were some other less memorable but still ill-fated attempts at bread-making over the years culminating more recently in an attempt to make focaccia, because who can mess that up, right?  Apparently I can.  I'll refer to it as the focaccia/Frisbee incident and leave it at that.  (These also involved rosemary.  Coincidence?)

The fact that I could not do something so seemingly simple and basic as baking aq stupid loaf of bread was incredibly annoying to me.  I use yeast at work to ferment things all the time.  I am the boss and the larger life form, I make the rules.  (Not really, just go with it.)  The yeasts were not going to beat me!  Especially not some run-of-the-mill, ho-hum, yer momma yeast that I bought in bulk at Sam's Club!!!

So, how did I finally succeed?  The same way the cave man showed his superiority over the apes:


Specifically, my Kitchen Aid + the dough hook.  I've always felt that my problem was overkneading.  This method takes that responsibility out of my hands.

I started simply with the basic white bread recipe in the little book that comes with the Kitchen Aid.  It came out fantastic!  After even this small measure of success I will admit to having delusions of great grandeur involving never buying bread from the grocery again and my house always smelling deliciously of yeast and fresh bread.  People will come to visit and I'll come out of the kitchen in a flour-spattered apron with a smudge on my nose and say, "Oh, hi.  I was just baking some baguettes..."


What?  Right.  Well, let's see if I can at least repeat the magic one more time before I swear off of commercial bread forever.

Yes, that big bite was me.  I think I was still chewing when I started giddily snapping pictures, as if the loaves were going to disappear before I could prove to anyone that I had actually baked good bread.

P.S.  All of the vegetables on the plate with my grilled cheese were purchased at the Raleigh Farmers Market, as was the butter on the bread in the second picture.

Buy Local NC!


  1. Your bread looks fantastic! I swear by my KitchenAid mixer. I'm trying the whole wheat bread this week (wheats scare me). I also just got the ice cream bowl attachment for Mother's Day and we've been having homemade ice cream for the 4th. It's super easy and so good! I'm on a mission to make as much at home as possible and pressure can/freeze my crops when they are in season. I'm finding it isn't necessarily saving any money and is a bit of a time sucker but it is usually much tastier and better for us. Yay, buying local! Are you trying the Produce Box?

  2. Yes, wheat flour is a completely different animal. It is next on my list as well. Doug and I were eating some of my bread last night and I think my favorite thing about homemade bread is that I can smell the yeast in it. I also want to get some sourdough starter going.

    That's so cool that you're canning and freezing your own crops! It is more work now, but during the winter you'll be able to just open a jar and have "fresh" tomatoes. That will be awesome! I have signed up for The Produce Box, I'm just waiting for my login.