Since it’s all kitchen all the time around here right now (Yeah, I’m still painting cabinets y’all. Remind me that this is going to be worth it.) I thought I’d share some behind the scenes happenings in ours. One of the reasons I wanted to brighten up the kitchen is because we spend a LOT of time in there. I mean, because of Scarlette’s eating issues I basically pureed baby food for like two years. I sort of never want to see a blender ever again.
(Except I still have to make her smoothies and homemade pouches so me and my blender are destined to be BFFS FOR LIFE, apparently.)
Something that I really wanted to do this year was learn to make my own bread. This is what happens when you turn thirty. You read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle instead of the newest Shopaholic book and then you go and start doing things like buying rain barrels and making your own bread. And using eye cream. Probably I should have just been like my BFF and gotten my nose pierced. That’s way less effort than making your own bread, y’all.
(But I don’t actually like my nose so the thought of adorning it with jewelry and drawing more attention to it doesn’t appeal to me. So bread making it is!)
My big goal is to make almost everything that we eat from scratch. It’s a lofty undertaking for someone as admittedly undomestic as I am and it may seem silly but every time I strain a quart of broth or pull a loaf of bread out of the oven I feel confident . And occasionally get a little bit teary because it was my friend Florica who introduced me to this, who taught me about things like buckwheat and how to make pancakes without use a box mix. Florica passed away this past spring and I’ve not written about it because it is the first time in my life that cancer has so cruelly intruded, taking with it a friend. I don’t understand cancer or loss but I understand mixing dough, a small remembrance of a big life, and I wish she was back perched in the corner of my kitchen and sharing laughter and a warm slice of my new culinary accomplishment.
(I seriously can’t write about it. Those few sentences hurt this morning.)
Back to bread.
I don’t use the bread machine for the entire process, I bake it in the oven because if you bake it in the bread machine the loaf comes out all weirdly shaped and I read a lot of tutorials that said the crust is lighter if you do it in the oven and those people are correct. But here is how I do it:
I set out all of my ingredients on account of how I can be a bit forgetful when baking.
(And then I promptly forgot to include the honey in this picture.)
I use a modified version of this honey white bread recipe and it really is the best one I’ve found for a white bread. I basically just use butter in place of the butter shortening and I increase the honey to 2 tablespoons.
I melt the butter, milk and honey together on the stove. I’d like to tell you that I do that because of really impressive reasons, like it’s more wholesome or how totally domestic I am. But really I do it that way because our microwave is broken. This is real life.
This bread is best if you use local honey. Seriously, don’t buy honey from the store. I mean, there are a million reasons not to buy honey from the store but mostly because local honey is much richer in flavor and so your bread will taste so much better. Trust me on this.
The most important thing is to put the liquid in first, then the dry ingredients and not to let the salt touch the yeast. So you make a little dip for the yeast to go in. I think the proper term is a “well” but last week I read Lauren’s post and now I can’t stop sing “I dip, you dip, we dip” in the kitchen.
This is what it all looks like in the bread machine that is about to do a few hours of work for you while you wrangle your two year old. Which is much easier to do when your hands aren’t covered in flour.
I take it out of the bread machine before the last rise, knead it, put it in a bread pan, cover it and let it rise for about 40 minutes before I put it in the oven to bake. Then my house smells amazing. People keep walking in off the streets offering to buy our house and stuff.
(I just made that last part up. That would actually be super creepy. But my house does smell amazing.)
Then we slather it with apple butter. Or peach honey butter. Because ain’t nothin’ sweeter than us Georgia peaches. (Is it just me that loves that song?) We use it for all of our sandwiches during the week as well.
(In all my experimenting I’ve yet to find a whole wheat version that tastes as good as this one so if you have one, point me in that direction please!)
So this is just a little encouragement in case you’ve been wanting to try your hand at baking your own bread. If I can do it, you can do it. Trust me. I mean, do you even know how many times I’ve set my kitchen on fire? (coughcoughapplecidercoughcough) Bread is totally do-able.
Also? This bread makes THE best french toast. You’re definitely going to want to try that.
(Disclosure: amazon affiliate link used because I want to buy more bread making supplies, y’all. If you totally hate affiliate links, you’re welcome to skip it and look up the product by name, it’s the Oster 5838 58-Minute Expressbake Breadmaker :))