Baking bread

Baking bread

Melissa Wiley at The Lilting House blog posts an impromptu mini-carnival of breadmaking posts after she mentioned that she was now baking bread with her kids at their new home in California.

Bread baking is one of those things I wanted to get into, since it is such a seemingly simple thing, yet with endless possibilities. In fact, I’ve begun baking sandwich bread on a regular basis for us instead of buying loaves at the store. I find the fresh-baked stuff lasts longer and tastes better (no surprise there). I posted the recipe I use on our newly re-designed and re-invigorated cooking blog, In the Kitchen with Bella. (While the old, newspaper-style format was fun, it was a bit confusing and the standard blog, newest on top, format seems to work better. Also the category links work now.)

We were given a KitchenAid stand mixer for our wedding, which made me very happy, as I’d wanted one for a long time. (So sue me, I’m a cooking geek.) Using the mixer, the bread goes together in no time at all. I could almost do it every day, although our loaves tend to last for a few days, if we can get it past the “hot from the oven” tasting phase.

Bread-baking has a spiritual significance for me too with the obvious Eucharistic connotations. In God’s grand wisdom, he decided that bread would convey the image of basic sustenance. It is the “staff of life.” We know Him in the “breaking of the bread.” Even the word “companion” comes from a Latin phrase meaning people who share bread. Certainly taking such simple ingredients and putting them together to form a basic nutritional foodstuff for your family is itself a symbolic spiritual act.

I like that.

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  • I have a bread machine that I got years ago, but I stopped using it. I didn’t like the texture of the bread it made and the odd-shaped loaf was difficult to use for sandwiches. I presume that some advances in bread-machine technology have been made in recent years.

  • Margaret: The bread does slice better if it is completely, but it tastes so good when it is still hot from the oven. It’s your choice and your priority, although I do have trouble keeping Melanie away from the loaf to let it cool.

    My slices tend to be a little thicker and heartier, but with some practice I’ve been able to get more regular slices. I have seen slicing boxes. The problem with them is if your loaf rises a little more than usual—as can happen depending on weather and ingredients and such—it might not fit inside and thus make it moot.

    Still, if I saw one of them around, I might pick it up to use.