Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bread - Wheat And Corn

Yesterday I baked a loaf of a recipe completely new to me. It contains two kinds of wheat flour and... improbably... yellow cornmeal. The recipe came from the Better Homes and Gardens bread machine cookbook. The crumb is just the right texture; the crust... well, if you eat the bread right after it cools, the crust is crunchy! Regrettably, that crunchy texture does not last overnight.

This is the first time in my young baking career that I have varied a recipe. About the middle of the second knead cycle, I checked the consistency of the dough. It was definitely too stiff for that stage (how did I know? well, that's just how it felt), so I added an ounce or so of water. The results were just about right.

I now have seven bread cookbooks, all acquired used: a manual for the machine, two cookbooks specific to bread machines, one on (conventionally baked) artisan breads, one on coffee cakes and quick breads, one general "encyclopedia" of bread (their word, not mine) and one by Mr. Hollywood. In my short career I've gone through two rounds of purchased ingredients and have tried perhaps a dozen recipes, some more than once. I think I can stop buying bread cookbooks now!


  1. Bought a bread machine several years back at a garage sale and baked one loaf: basic white. Put it by for several more years until I read about your bread adventures. Dusted off the machine and baked one more... digging for my bread recipes.

  2. ellroon, baking is cheap sanity, at least as good as therapy and a whole lot tastier. If you need recipes I can type 'em up for you. Or I can just give you two ref's for books written with bread machines in mind:

    - Fuller, ed. Better Homes and Gardens, The Complete Guide to Bread Machine Baking, Meredith Books, 1999

    - Hensperger, Beth. The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook, Harvard Common Press, 2000

    There are many newer books out there if you are willing to pay $30-40, but these two turned up in a local used book store, a few weeks apart, for about $10 each. Both are excellent.

  3. Very much enjoying the Bread Chronicles

  4. I don't buy a bread machine because if I did, I'd be a million jillion pounds and look like one of those Michelin Man fatties that grace the back pages of women's magazines in the ads for dangerous fad diet products (the actual recipe for losing weight -- exercise more and eat less -- never seems to be there). You put a loaf of fresh bread in front of me, and it will be eaten within 30 minutes, boom boom boom.

    So count me out on the fresh bread. But geez you make me drool with these postings :).

    - Badtux the Rotund Penguin

  5. mandt, BadTux -

    mandt, thanks. You know you don't have to have a bread machine... if you have an oven in your kitchen, you're set to go. Just find a book with conventional recipes. Even old all-in-one cookbooks like Joy of Cooking have plenty of bread recipes in them. And if I can bake without screwing it up, it must be pretty easy. :-)

    BadTux, I feel your pain, but I think there are other solutions. It's hard to tell if I've gained weight from eating more bread or from a new med that I was prescribed a few months ago; it may be a bit of both. But the good news is that once the novelty wears off... once you realize that this is NOT your last chance to scarf down a delicious freshly baked loaf because you yourself can make another one later... the tendency to overeat your own baked goods diminishes. The other thing is that home-baked bread is usually dense, intensely flavored and very satisfying; there's none of that business of eating a half a loaf hoping the next slice will satisfy you as the last one did not. One more thing: even using a bread machine is not completely bother-free, and it's just barely enough trouble to squelch any notion of baking and eating continuously. Those recipes that say "Time to prepare: 10 min" are lying to you! At my slow pace around the kitchen, constrained in part by my disability, prep time for a typical bread machine loaf is about 30 min., and then the loaf itself isn't done for another few hours.

  6. Rachael Ray's 30 minute meals always take me an hour and a half...

    Thanks for the book references. Think I have one already..

  7. Steve, my favorite is a cheese and jalapeno bread that, fresh out of the oven, gets demolished in short order. If I made baking bread easier for me... I shudder at the implications for my pleasing penguin rotundity, which would swiftly approach beach ball shape, methinks.

    It's bad enough that I have fresh corn tortillas regularly. Those are fairly low calorie -- about 70 calories apiece -- so I don't feel too bad about occasionally taking 2/3rd cup masa flour, 1/2 cup water, mixing it up, making four balls, whacking them flat, then frying them up on a really hot cast iron griddle. Top with refried beans and cheese and yum. But that's not the same as devouring a whole loaf of bread within 20 minutes!

    - Badtux the Bread-lovin' Penguin

  8. God for your continued interest in bread baking. It is a great way to spend some time and the results, even when not spectacular, are good.
    As you know I bake every week and sometimes more often and I really cherish my homemade bread.
    Keep up the good work and I can sympathize with BadTux especially when you have good Irish butter to smear on fresh bread.

  9. ellroon, BadTux, fallenmonk...

    ellroon, I can't ever transcribe a recipe by Rachael Ray because I'm too busy ogling Rachael... I am fond of nicely rounded women, and Rachael, like many cooks, has that "cook look."

    BadTux, there are foods I don't dare keep around the house for similar reasons, e.g., potato chips. Most of the time (meds notwithstanding... one of mine has weight gain as a side effect) I keep my weight in check, but in the old days, I'd go through a large sack of chips in a sitting. Fortunately, two thick slices of bread are as much as I can eat at one time, even if the bread is wonderful.

    fallenmonk, it is good to see you on the threads again; I know that loss of a family member kept Stella from surfing for quite a while. Yes, baking has become one of my staple activities. I am constrained only by the length of time I can stand at the counter... I can manage one loaf, but two in a row require a break in between.



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