Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

Last week, an item we had ordered appeared on my doorstep and I think I just might have heard the birds singing when I opened it up. 🙂

Hubby and I had a small debate over the color choice; initially I had wanted the mixer in Green Apple, but somewhere along the line, something happened and we ended up with this Nickel Pearl baby.

Anyway, I read somewhere that of all the interesting things this KitchenAid can help with in the kitchen, one of the most outstanding uses was in the bread-making area.

Now, if you’ve read my blog long enough, you would know that I have not had very much success with bread-making, whether with a bread maker or the traditional knead-by-hand method.  So naturally I was excited to put this mixer to the bread-making test.

Friday morning saw me mixing the ingredients in the mixer for a loaf of milk bread.  I had great hopes for this bread, I’d tell you.  It was supposed to be a fool-proof recipe, that would produce the softest loaf of bread ever.  Alas, disaster struck along the way, and my kneaded dough refused to rise.

I baked it anyway, and surprisingly, my kids devoured the entire loaf of bread within 30 minutes, despite it not being the bread consistency I was looking for.  It was more like cake, which I guessed they liked.

Anyway, I figured it could be because of the cold milk I used, so I tried it a second time, this time heating up the milk and butter first, but the results were even worse than the first attempt.  The bread turned out underbaked and then overbaked when I put it back in the oven.  It was heavy and did not even resemble bread. 🙁

My third attempt was yesterday.  I decided to try it the same way the first attempt I made, but I figured the reason for the dough not rising could be because of the cold temperature in winter.  So I warmed up the oven for a minute and then placed the dough to rise in the warm oven.  No luck.  The dough was just as stubborn as ever, and the resulting loaf turned out hard as a rock and was hardly edible.  No pictures this time, because I was just plain tired.

So I did some research online, and asked a seasoned bread-baker for help.  She advised me to mix just half the flour first and then add the rest as necessary to form a good kneadable dough.  Also, she suggested warming up the liquids, but I was cautioned against making the liquid too hot, for fear it would kill the yeast.

Today, I tried a new sandwich loaf recipe, with a few things done differently from my previous attempts:

  • I only mixed yeast and half the flour together.
  • I warmed up the milk, butter, salt and sugar in a separate saucepan, just until the butter melted.  Then I waited a while for the mixture to cool down a little, but it was still warm when I poured it into the yeast and flour mixture.  I ought to use a food thermometer for ideal results, but since I left my food thermometer in Penang, there was nothing I could do.
  • I poured in the remainder of the flour a little at a time and mixed until the dough was the consistency I was looking for.
  • I let the dough rise in a warmed-up oven and even added a bowl of hot water below the mixing bowl, just so the right rising temperature was maintained.

Lo and behold, I checked on the dough after 30 minutes and it was rising beautifully!!  I was ecstatic, almost to the point of crying!

Here’s the risen dough after 60 minutes:

And when I took it out to punch and roll it again, the dough was warm to the touch, which proved that the yeast was hard at work!

I put the dough into my glass baking pan (I would prefer a metal pan, but for now this is all I have) and let it rise again for 30 minutes in the oven.

I could just feel this was going to be a success.  The bread baked beautifully and when I took it out it had that overflowing-the-top look that most IDEAL loaves of bread had.

However, the bread stuck a little to the glass pan and I could not take it out properly.  Still, after it cooled down and I sliced it (errr…rather thickly, unfortunately)…my little picky eater (who had just come back from school) asked for a slice with butter, and he finished the entire slice!   That’s definitely saying something, eh? 🙂

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