Practice Makes Perfect… Eventually

What is something you’ve had to practice in order to be good at?

This was the ice-breaker question my husband posed to our small group at our last meeting.  Knowing that the answer didn’t have to be “spiritual,” my answer came to me pretty quickly:  making bread!

When I decided to begin changing the way I feed myself and my family, I set forth some goals to help keep me from getting too overwhelmed.  One of those goals was to make my own bread.

Right away, this one goal presented me with quite a challenge.  If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might remember from my “Kneading” Heaven post that I have a focal point dystonia of the forearm which has greatly affected my ability to write and to do other common tasks that require the use of the muscles in the forearm–such as kneading dough.

Knowing what the consequences of kneading dough by hand would be–and having neither a stand mixer nor enough loaf pans to oven-bake my bread–I decided I would try adapting the bread recipe to my bread machine (which I had used only two times before).  However, when I pulled my neglected bread machine out of the cupboard and prepared to use it, I realized that the paddle was missing.  I was perplexed at first, but then I remembered that on the second occasion I had made bread in the machine, it had finished baking just as I was running out the door; so I had hastily wrapped it up without taking time to remove the paddle from the loaf.  And days later when the still untouched loaf had started to mold, I threw it out, evidently forgetting that the paddle was still inside.

While I was lamenting my stupid mistake, my mom came up with a great idea:  “Maybe you could have the kids take turns helping you knead.”  I loved it!  Kids love to get their hands messy, Abel loves to cook, and I would love the help!  Not only would it save me some pain, it would buy me some time before I would have to purchase either a replacement paddle for the bread machine or a new stand mixer (thus appealing to my frugal nature)!

So, when I we first started making bread back in November, Abel did all of the kneading for me.

The loaves we turned out weren’t super, but they tasted good and they were good enough to keep us from having to buy bread.

Then, the weekend of Black Friday, my husband found us a great deal on the 5-quart 475-watt KitchenAid Stand Mixer I wanted so badly!
Up to $50 OFF  KitchenAid 5-quart   475-watt Stand Mixer
I got the silver one (and it really did come with those cool prep bowls and the nifty timer!) for only $199.99!  Abel had been replaced (as the “kneader,” that is), but he didn’t mind.  He enjoyed enjoys the new mixer almost as much as I do!

Here is the first full batch of bread I made using my amazing new appliance.  I still had only one loaf pan at the time, so I used the extra dough to make a few dinner rolls, breadsticks, and pretzels.  (Well, they were supposed to look like breadsticks and pretzels….)

The next investment we made was on a second stoneware loaf pan.  (I actually had one boxed up with some stuff I was going to sell at a garage sale, but when I learned that stoneware is the way to go, I pulled it out and put it to use!)
Food Network Loaf Pan at Kohls

And the latest addition to my bread-baking equipment was this!
KitchenAid GMA Grain Mill for the KitchenAid Mixer
For Christmas, Travis’ parents bought me the grain mill attachment for my KitchenAid mixer!  This thing is awesome!  Having tried out a manual grain mill a couple months ago (and therefore knowing how much work it could be to grind my own flour), I felt totally spoiled to have a piece of equipment that does all the work for me.

The decision to begin baking my own bread required not only the acquisition of some equipment (which, after seeing the health benefits, I can say has been totally worth it!); it has also required the acquisition of knowledge and experience.  I didn’t realize what an art bread baking really is.  I’ve been “practicing” making bread for a little over two months now, and I am just finally starting to end up with loaves that I’m not embarrassed to share with company.  :-)

Learning to make bread has been quite an adventure; but I guess since practice makes perfect, this perfectionist will keep right on practicing!

6 Comments

  1. Great job Angela! As a fellow breadmaker, many years now, I know the joy of making beautiful loaves of bread. When I used to sell more of it, I made up to 25 loaves a week! Now, about 10-15! I love being able to share it with others, they love the homemade bread and all are blessed!

    Once you get really good at it, which your pictures look like you are doing great, you might want to look into the benefits of ‘soaking’ your flour. It reduces the phytates in the whole grain and makes the nutrients available for absorption. I wish I had known this when I started. That is the only reason I share it with you now. Don’t take it on yet if it is too much, just tuck it away for when you can. I believe my families health would have been better had I been soaking my grains years ago. Google the ‘benefits of soaking grains’ or Nourishing Tradtions, and you should find some good info. Let me know if you need more info, but in the mean time, enjoy you beautiful bread!!!

    Clinging to His Grace,

    Michelle

  2. Angela says:

    Michelle,

    Thanks for sharing your input. I think I would like to try soaking my grains. (Or is it the flour you soak??) Do you have any pointers for me?!

    Thanks!
    Angela

  3. I lost my connection before i posted this link I think.
    http://articles.urbanhomemaker.com/index.php?article=358
    Also, I typed a whole response, hope that comes through too 😉

  4. Okay, turns out I lost the first comment. I was just saying that you soak the flour for bread. Nourishing Traditions is a great book to check out, as it explains all about soaking grains, beans, nuts and seeds.

    Here is the first link I tried to send.
    http://www.suegregg.com/about/Two%20Stage%20Process.pdf

    Hope this helps. The above link or the other ‘two loaf’ recipe should be perfect for your size machine!

    I have been making Marilyn’s recipe for over ten years! Sue Greggs is great too!

    May God bless the work of your hands as you seek to nourish your precious family

  5. busymomof10 says:

    We like the white wheat because it produces a lighter loaf, both in color and in texture. I started off with the Red wheat, then switched to Golden 86 years ago, and now I am using a White wheat. It is just a matter of preference, but you might want to try some white wheat and see which you prefer. I am new to NT and have not yet tried soaking the flour first, as Michelle mentioned above. I guess I will work my way into that.

    blessings,
    Elizabeth

  6. busymomof10 says:

    Do you like your Kitchen Aid grain mill? Does it do a good job of grinding fine textured flour? Where did you get yours? I need to replace my grain mill, which recently died, and now that I have a new 6 quart Kitchen Aid, I was curious if that would be the way to go? i’d appreciate any info you can share about it. Thanks!
    busymomof10@gmail.com