I made french bread a few weeks ago, and wanted to keep working with various yeast breads, so I opted to make Italian bread this weekend. Searching the trusty King Arthur Flour website, I found a good one to try (http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/italian-bread-101-recipe).
When I started working with yeast breads, I chose to knead the bread by hand. But I went for the mixer method this time around. It was wonderful! I made the starter on Friday night and then combined the ingredients per the recipe instructions on Saturday morning before heading in to work. Using the stand mixer made life incredibly easier. I put in the ingredients, then had time to unload the dishwasher while still being able to keep an eye on the consistency of the dough. I didn't need to adjust a thing, which was so nice. No guessing on the amount of extra flour or water needed. It all just came together like it should. Why can't everything in life be like that?
This recipe called for the dough to be separated into three pieces after rising. Each piece is rolled out into a rope and then braided together. Sounds simple enough. I have braided my hair many times in my lifetime, so I didn't think much of it...until I had all three pieces laid out next to each other and then drew a complete blank. I tried putting the pieces in different orders and still couldn't get it right. Then I realized that I have only ever braided my own hair...behind my head. So I was all turned around when faced with braiding something in front of me. After a few more minutes, I had it all figured out. I transferred the braid to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet (yes, I learned my lesson about using wax paper in a hot oven, which results in a very smoky house...see my entry on making the french bread).
After another rise, the bread looked so pretty! I was starting to get excited. I am making my own bread! And it LOOKS like bread!! Woohoo!!!! Into the oven the bread went. My husband doesn't like bread that is too crusty, so I cooked it for the minimum amount of time and immediately took it out of the oven and coated the crust with melted butter.
It really takes a lot of effort not to eat the bread right that very second, especially since I hadn't eaten a whole lot that day and it was already 2PM. I just knew I would burn my tongue. I held off and tasted the bread later. It is soft and wonderful. I am such a bread person that you have no idea how excited I am to be able to make my own bread.
I think it is almost time to start working towards the whole wheat breads again. They are a little more tricky than white flour breads and I have had many failures in the past. But now that I have a few white breads that have gone successfully, I think I am in a much better position now to attack whole wheat breads and be able to handle any problems that may arise. Ok, maybe not any and all problems, but I think I need to fake the confidence to make it through.
I can make whole wheat bread! And I will!