Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fresh From the Oven: Homemade Breads

I have a lot of experience with baking quick breads, but I've never tried to make homemade breads before. I was intimidated by the process and didn't think I had the skills or the time. On a grocery shopping trip, I passed the bakery and saw a loaf of cherry chocolate bread that looked so good I decided to make my own chocolate bread at home.

I found a recipe online and set out to make chocolate bread! Long story short, the bread did not turn out as desired. It didn't rise, didn't look very pretty, and was quite dense. While it wasn't a nice fluffy bread, it would have made a great base for a dessert bruschetta. I imagined toasting it and topping it with fresh strawberries and cream. But that is for another post - this is all about the bread.

After my failed attempt, I was motivated to conquer the bread baking challenge. Not too much later, one of my favorite new foodies posted an article entitled, "Yes, You Can Bake Bread" on Local in Season. Inspired by Jane's can-do attitude and seemingly easy recipe for cinnamon raisin whole wheat bread, I gathered the ingredients, got out my red KitchenAid mixer and got to work!

A key learning from my first experience was that my kitchen is not warm enough for dough to rise. To remedy this I put the oven on warm for about 10 minutes (while I kneaded the dough) and then turned it off before putting the dough inside. With the door cracked, the dough doubled in size as specified in the recipe. I think I didn't quite let the dough fully rise the second time and I left in the oven a little too long trying to get the right color. But, much better than the first try! You can get the recipe at I used honey for my sweetener and regular raisins. I also used my KitchenAid mixer to do the kneading.

After my success with Jane's recipe, I felt confident and decided that I could make my own breads every weekend. The next week I found a few recipes on the King Arthur Flour website and picked two to try - honey oatmeal and a white sandwich bread. The honey oatmeal was a very hearty bread - with oats, instant mashed potato flakes, and flour. The white sandwich bread was a more traditional milk bread.

Honey Oatmeal

White Sandwich Bread

I fired up the mixer, heated up the oven, and started the 6 hour bread breaking process. Both breads rose according to plan (a small miracle) and baked to a nice golden brown. The honey oatmeal was great toasted with a little peanut butter. The sandwich bread was a little sweet for my taste, but got rave reviews from my chief food tasters - my hubby and my friend Renee.

I am glad to know that I can add breads to the list of foods that I make at home instead of buying at the store. Plus, bread baking works well with my usual Sunday homework plans. Mix the dough - study for 2 hours while it rises - punch down the dough - study for 2 hours while it rises again - bake - watch TV - and then enjoy!

I would love to hear about your bread baking adventures - both failures and success!

Photos of my breads are in the running to win a picture contest through a drool-worthy website, Refrigerator Soup. If you have a minute, please click through and vote (it's by popular vote). Leave a comment here and let me know that you voted - I'm going to pick one lucky winner and send them a freshly baked loaf of bread! Vote here!
***New Feature***
Haikus from the hubby, of When He Fends for Himself.
Out of the oven
Two pieces toasted and sliced
Crumbs are everywhere


  1. Great post! Bread baking is a very satisfying experience. You might enjoy a book called The Bread Baker's Appentice.

  2. Looks great! I've voted a few times for you :-) I've been wanting to try baking bread for awhile too. Hopefully I'll get around to it soon. I bake quick breads but have yet to try "real" bread.

  3. I promise you, bread baking is an addictive journey! So glad the recipe inspired you to find more. The loaves look lovely.

  4. Congrats on your first loaves!! they look great. you've inspired me - I need to bake some bread next time im in CT in the big kitchen!

  5. Looks great! I've voted a few times for you :-) I've been wanting to try baking bread for awhile too. Hopefully I'll get around to it soon. I bake quick breads but have yet to try "real" bread.


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