Another Post About Bread

I wrote a post about baking bread a while back. Well, I’ve found another recipe that I think is even better than the one I’d been using. It comes from FiveHeartHome although I’ve seen similar recipes elsewhere on the Internet. What I like about FiveHeartHome’s recipe, which you can find here, is that blogger Samantha explains how the recipe works and provides plenty of helpful pictures of the dough mixing process-always helpful when you’re learning a new bread making technique.

So, what’s so special about this recipe? You mix your sponge, let it rest 10 minutes, add the rest of your ingredients, mix, knead, and it’s ready for the pans. Just like that.

Dough after kneading

You let your dough rise to the size you want your final loaves to be. And then you bake it. No fussing about “oven spring.” What you see is what you get.

Dough after rising before baking

I’ve doubled the FiveHeartHome recipe to make four loaves and it works great. I don’t have a stand mixer. I use a sturdy Hamilton Beach hand mixer like this one to incorporate all the ingredients before I start kneading. The kneading doesn’t take long; the dough comes together beautifully. I don’t use a thermometer to determine if my bread is done. The old “thump the loaf” test works fine for me. And I run the hot water from the tap.

The unusual ingredient in this bread is the lemon juice. (I substitute cider vinegar). It helps the yeast work and makes the bread rise nicely. Don’t be tempted to dump all the ingredients into the bowl at once even if you have a professional stand mixer. Follow the instructions in the order given. You won’t be sorry.

Out of the oven
Out of the pans
A nice crumb

I do improvise a little with this bread, throwing in some sunflower seeds and rolled oats when I mix the sponge into the rest of the ingredients. What I really think would be interesting would be a Challah type bread using this recipe as the base. Maybe I’ll try that next.

Try Something New

Autumn is upon us (although we keep regressing back to Summer in Philadelphia).  Time to try something new!  I sold my beloved kiln and controller that I used for bead annealing, fusing glass and, most recently, metal clay.  I want to upgrade to a kiln that can handle cone 6 firing so I can work with porcelain on a regular basis.  Here are some new baubles I’m currently working on.  Cone 6 white porcelain and Mason stains, unglazed.

YouTube videos

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The same, with a cold finish

Five Star Bronze Clay Torch Fired

I wrote a  review of Prometheus Clay while back.  This time I tried Five Star Bronze Clay which is also torch fireable.  And I can say that Prometheus clay wins hands down, at least for torch firing.  I find Prometheus easier to condition, easier to work with and I got more consistent results with the torch.  I have not tried kiln firing with 5 Star Bronze yet.  I’ll let you know the results when I do.   But the BIG story is that I am now making my own bronze clay.  I saw Alan Wiggens’ YouTube videos on the subject and decided to give it a try.  I read about metallurgy to get an understanding of the sintering process so I could find the best deal on a powdered bronze that would work.  Preliminary torch fire tests have been successful!  Not in making a finished product, but in making metal that I can pound out with a hammer.    I am eager to test my homemade clay in a kiln which is how Alan Wiggens recommends firing it.    Stay tuned.

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Bronze clay ready for my future kiln.  The lighter clay is my homemade clay.  The darker clay is Five Star Bronze.

My mother made bread every week when I was growing up so the process is no mystery to me.   I generally throw flour into a bowl,  add yeast and some honey and sugar to feed the yeast and park it under the kitchen tap and turn on the water.  No measuring, no recipe.  And no salt.

I have a friend who says that the flour and bread we buy in the United States is stale and a bit moldy and that is the reason most (not all) people have a problem with gluten.  (I have another friend who gets sick every time she eats pasta in the U.S. but can eat all the bread an pasta she wants when she goes to Italy).   So I decided to grind my own flour.  I got a grinding mill and 40 lbs of wheat berries.  Grinding your own flour is not cheaper than buying it, although there are wheat berry bargains to be had.  And the process is labor intensive.  First, you have to drag the 40 lb bucket into the house.  Then you have an argument with your husband about where to set up the mill.   Then you and your husband have to watch an [expletive deleted] video to figure out how to get the [expletive deleted]  lid off of the [expletive deleted] bucket of [expletive deleted] wheat berries.

Bread1

Next comes the grinding.  After hand cranking the wheat berries,  we learned why we refer to arduous tasks as a “grind.” (Or maybe he knew already.  He has a Ph.D. in English Literature).

Bread2

Here is the flour.  What you don’t see is all the[expletive deleted] flour around my kitchen.

Bread4

Nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven,. Well, almost nothing.

Bread3

BreadMill

And in the spirit of trying something new,  let me introduce you to our new motor for the grain mill.  It makes a sound like squealing pigs on steroids, but it does the job.  And the towel is to keep down the flour dust.

Now, on to trying the autolyze process.

On a final note, even Boris is trying something new.  He is off the Prescription Diet and is now eating a new, almost as expensive Hills Science cat food.  And he likes it!

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