so my bread making experiment of 2012 is actually going pretty well so far. i have been able to make it at least once a week...but a large part of that is thanks to my little sister for leaving her kitchen-aid mixer at my house and being too lazy to bring it home...ha! success!
i will say though, that most of the breads i have been making i have made both in the mixer and without so that i could know if it affects the taste, textures, etc. i have found that its the same, but much more labor intensive without the mixer. i get ADD after kneading bread past 5 minutes...10 minutes is a looong time for me!
anyway - i have been experimenting with my mom's basic bread recipe - been using half wheat flour - which has made the taste better, but definitely it gets harder faster...i only make it when i know the whole thing will be consumed in a day/evening...and that is usually not a problem in this house.
mostly there have been successes...but i have also had some epic fails...a few things i have learned (so far) in my journey:
1. it is never okay to ask your husband to remember to take the bread out of the oven after you have been making it for the past 2 hours...even though you made him set an alarm on his phone and the kitchen timer...3 HOURS LATER...it was still in the oven...completely inedible.
2. i have had a lot of trouble with the first rise - my kitchen is COLD. i heard a tip to turn your oven on to 200 degrees and leave the bread to rise on the back burner on top of your oven (see pic) - BEST RISE EVER!!! i have alternately tried the microwave with the door closed and the oven turned on then turned off - neither of which worked as well in my coooold kitchen.
3. pizza dough can be left in the fridge after the first rise for up to 3 days for most breads...which works well - i need to remember how easy it is to make pizza dough (and yummy) but also need to PLAN for it! (P.S. Best Pizza Dough so far - Ina Garten! - thanks Jena!)
4. yeast is touchy...i have killed it with scalding butter...i need to remember to leave butter out to room temperature on bread-making days...
5. bread making is not hard once you learn the basics...the only way to learn the basics is to DO IT! listen...if I can do it...so can you! So go make my mom's bread today!