Ever since I started taking cooking more seriously, I’ve dreamt of baking bread. It sounded so romantic – kneading the flour mixture with your KitchenAid stand mixer, forming the dough with your hands, shoving it into then pulling the loaves out of the hot oven and, of course, eating a warm slice slathered with butter.
There’s something wrong with my dream. I don’t know if you could spot it, but a KitchenAid stand mixer? Those things cost around $300 or even more! I didn’t have that kind of money, so the dream was just shelved like the plastic bagged loaves I bought from the supermarket.
But one day, a light bulb turned on – but they didn’t have KitchenAid stand mixers back then. So what’s stopping me from baking bread from scratch?
I dove in deep to learning how to bake bread with my hands – read books like Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson and Crust & Crumb by Peter Reinhart, furiously hand wrote notes like the proper nerd that I am, and repeatedly watched YouTube tutorials on hand kneading and dough shaping. I saved up some money to get myself a digital scale and got to it.
The first two tries, I failed miserably. How miserable? Well, the loaves were inedible, hard as a damn rock. I wanted them to be okay, even nibbled on a slice, smiling to The Husband, who shook his head in surrender to bad bread. I didn’t want to throw them away because I hate food waste. But eventually, I did.
Turning them into croutons couldn’t even save them.
But I wasn’t to be deterred by my bread rocks in a hard place, so I dusted off the flour on my shirt, scraped and wiped down my kitchen counter and started all over again. I wasn’t an expert in baking theory yet, the little that I’ve read and baked, so I could not “freestyle” like I do in cooking. I stayed true to the recipes, following each one to the letter, and finally achieved success.
So I’ve made French bread, pan de sal, Italian bread, ciabatta bread, sourdough rye bread and next week, I will be making brioche. I know it isn’t much yet. I can only bake as fast as we can finish an entire recipe of bread.
More posts about bread baking soon!