Sunday was my designated day for the Chronicles of White Loaves and I confess that I spent the day primarily holding my breath. Well, that followed by running to re-read each recipe step, followed by running to verify that my liquid/ dough/ bread form was indeed the correct consistency and texture as said recipe step. All this trepidation stems from a checkered past of fallen, lopsided or hopelessly chewy baked goods. Meaning, I automatically turn the page when a recipe calls for yeast. I can not adequately express my delight that, indeed, each stage of my White Loaves matched the recipe description and illustration. Well, my son may have accurately summed it up, when catching me taking umpteen pictures of the finished product, smirked, “Gee, you’re not proud of those or anything are you?”
I’ll refrain from posting the twenty or so nearly identical pictures I took of the finished loaves – all at slightly different angles, of course. I give full credit for success to the thoughtfully and thoroughly well written recipe. I’m still in shock that all progressed as it should have on Sunday beginning with the resting yeast mixture:
I actually used my instant read thermometer to verify the water temperature. Could it be that correct temperature is key?
My temperature obsession carried over to the addition of the butter. Convinced that the stick was not room temperature, I cradled and carried it around for a while before getting brave enough to slice it and add by bits to the dough. And just as the recipe indicated, the dough actually “came apart” somewhat – oddly reassuring.
Perhaps the most embarrassing confession of all is that after removing the dough to attempt half of the kneading by hand, I soon realized that I desperately need to work on my upper body strength and quickly returned the dough to the bowl of my beautiful black Kitchen Aid mixer. Which, I might add, got enough of a work out that it was hot to the touch – yeah, baby! And voila, I ended up with a dough ball which actually rose! A miracle. Really, I was afraid to pull out my biggest glass mixing bowl because I didn’t want to shame the dough when it expanded by the typically (for me) normal miniscule amount visible only under a magnifying glass.
But my dough ball DID expand and gave me the courage to continue. Feeling strong, I shaped my dough rectangles by hand, no rolling-pin for me. Yes, I did measure them to see if they were close to 9 x 12. Being this obsessed, I greatly appreciated the pictorial step by step for shaping the dough. This step, too, turned out well and the instructions were easy to follow and clear. My next breath-holding dilemma occurred when I realized that my two loaf pans were different in size; one being slightly larger than recommended. Luckily I remembered that our Wal-Mart is under reconstruction and I had sworn never to step foot in there again even under the threat of uneven loaves.
I am still amused at how happy the sight of the dough expanding over the lip of the loaf pan made me. For this “second rise”, I had set the loaf pans on the back porch table in the sun. 45 minutes and the loaves looked as if they were “growing over the tops of the pans!” That and a 70 degree January day in Charleston in the afternoon sun didn’t hurt.
Final result: you are my sunshine.