About Me

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I am a retired nurse and currently enjoying being a stay-at-home Mom and Wife.  I am the blessed mother of two and the proud grandmother of two. Cooking for me has always been a Love/Hate relationship.  I used to HATE to cook and anything to do with the kitchen yet I LOVED to eat good food.  A few years ago I got hooked on the Food Network channel.  The only thing that was wrong with that was, that I'd see all this amazing food and I can't cook like that.  My repertoire consisted of stuff like Sloppy Joe's and Hamburger Helper.  Well, one day, I had a crazy moment and decided I'd try one of the easy recipes from that Southern Queen of the kitchen, Paula Deen.  Now, to be honest, my first few forays into the unexplored territory of completely homemade recipes didn't always turn out as planned but most of them tasted pretty good.  As time went on, I got a little braver and started tweaking recipes to make them my own.  Sometimes they turned out beautifully and well, sometimes they didn't.  Sometimes I just had to shake my head and laugh...it was either that or cry (as a nurse, I can attest to the fact that laughter is the best medicine.)  Anyway, my Momma didn't raise a quitter so I keep trying and I even amaze myself sometimes when whatever I've cooked comes out amazing (like my Skillet Apple Pie).  Since my kitchen is not like the Food Network where you can have multiple "do overs" (and yours probably isn't either) I decided to share the fun on this blog.  I hope you enjoy sharing the journey with me, in the beauties that turn out, the blunders that don't and the bloopers that are just funny.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Heavenly Bread


Hello blog world!

I am in a very chipper mood because I would like to report my second attempt with my really old bread maker was a BEAUTY!  Yep, the bread turned out perfectly with a golden, crispy crust and a soft, fluffy middle.   I will tell you my secret to success (and it was a surprise to me), you have to follow the recipe.  I know, that doesn’t sound like rocket science but recipes sometimes are like astrophysics to me.  I can look at one and think, ok, that’s pretty easy, I can do that.  (I need to not think sometimes.)  All kidding aside, I followed the recipe exactly (which I didn’t the first time) and lo, and behold, I ended up with a beautiful loaf of homemade bread.  Yes, I know it’s a bread machine, but I’m still taking credit for it.    So,  here’s what I did differently.  I went to the store and purchased *BREAD FLOUR AND QUICK RISE YEAST.   The first time I used what I had in the pantry which was all-purpose flour and regular yeast.   I did not know there was such a thing as bread flour.  I had heard of cake flour but not bread flour.  (If you want to know the difference, see the below information –credit to www.ochef.com)   Anyway, I went to my local market and there it was sitting on a shelf.  They also had the instant yeast (also known as Fast-Rising, Rapid-Rise, Quick Rise, and/or Bread Machine Yeast).   I got home and hurried to get all my ingredients together.  I followed the recipe with the precision of a NASA engineer and when all ingredients were properly assembled and dispensed into the bread maker, I pushed that magic start button.   Then I had to wait FOUR hours.  Do you have any idea how long FOUR HOURS can be?  Since reaching mid-life, I have come to the conclusion that time speeds by.  That is so not true when I am waiting for something for FOUR HOURS.  I think I may have discovered a way to slow down the aging process, and it’s for me to make bread every day for FOUR HOURS.  Anyway, the beeper sounded on my ancient bread maker indicating the bread was FINALLY done.  I opened the lid tentatively and looked inside and to my amazement, I had a beautiful loaf of bread.  (Party dance).    My poor husband was willing to be my guinea pig and be the taste tester.   He pronounced it, delicious!   I am posting the recipe below and hope to hear from you about your adventures in the kitchen.   (Side note: my ancient bread maker died on the third loaf so further bread making exploits will have to wait for a new machine). 

Bread Machine Bread
INGREDIENTS:
1 cup warm water (110 degrees F - 45 degrees C)
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 (.25 ounce) package bread machine yeast
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 cups bread flour
1  1/8 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:
Place the water, sugar and yeast in the pan of the bread machine. Let the yeast dissolve and foam for 10 minutes (this is called “proofing” the yeast).  Add the oil, flour and salt to the yeast. Select Basic or White Bread setting, and press Start.  *Most bread machines call for the yeast to go in dry and not be activated.  Trust me, follow these directions,  the results are wonderful.




*Bread flour is a high-gluten flour that has very small amounts of malted barley flour and vitamin C or potassium bromate added. The barley flour helps the yeast work, and the other additive increases the elasticity of the gluten and its ability to retain gas as the dough rises and bakes. Bread flour is called for in many bread and pizza crust recipes where you want the loftiness or chewiness that the extra gluten provides. It is especially useful as a component in rye, barley and other mixed-grain breads, where the added lift of the bread flour is necessary to boost the other grains.  All-purpose flour is made from a blend of high- and low-gluten wheat, and has a bit less protein than bread flour (11% or 12% vs. 13% or 14%).  You can always substitute all-purpose flour for bread flour, although your results may not be as glorious as you had hoped. There are many recipes, however, where the use of bread flour in place of all-purpose will produce a tough, chewy, disappointing result. Cakes, for instance, are often made with all-purpose flour, but would not be nearly as good made with bread flour.